Management of Small Infected Tibial Defects with Antibiotic-Impregnated Autogenic Cancellous Bone Grafting

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Abstract

Between January of 1991 and December of 1993, 36 patients who had tibia fractures complicated by small infected tibia defects were treated at the authors' service.The group included 30 men and 6 women whose average age was 36.5 years (range, 18-72 years). The average follow-up period was 3.7 years. By using the Cierney-Mader staging classification of chronic osteomyelitis, 26 of 36 patients (72%) were stage 4A and 10 of 36 patients (28%) were stage 4B. Ten patients required muscle transfer. All patients were treated with a two-stage protocol. In the first stage, antibiotic-impregnated polymethylmethacrylate bead chains were used to obliterate the debrided osseous defect. In the second stage, the beads were removed, and the defects were reconstructed with antibiotic-impregnated autogenic cancellous bone graft. The time between the first and second stage was 2 to 8 weeks for patients without muscle transfer and 8 to 12 weeks for the patients with muscle transfer. The bone defects ranged from 2 to 4 cm. Wound healing and bony union were achieved in all patients. Only two patients had recurrent infections. The infection arrest rate was 94.4%. Minor pin tract infection of the external skeletal fixation was seen in two patients. Two patients developed skin rashes secondary to antibiotic therapy. Radiographs at an average follow-up of 3.7 years showed good consolidation and hypertrophy of grafted bones in all patients. After 3 to 5 years of follow-up, our results suggest that the use of impregnating antibiotics have no adverse effects on autogenic cancellous bone graft incorporation and may help to eliminate infection. This treatment protocol provided rapid recovery from osteomyelitis. The use of antibiotic-impregnated autogenic bone graft seems to be an effective and safe method for the management of small infected tibial defects.

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