Open Tibia Shaft Fractures and Soft-Tissue Coverage: The Effects of Management by an Orthopaedic Microsurgical Team

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Abstract

Objectives:

To compare the timing of soft-tissue (flap) coverage and occurrence of complications before and after the establishment of an integrated orthopaedic trauma/microsurgical team.

Design:

Retrospective cohort study.

Setting:

A single level 1 trauma center.

Patients:

Twenty-eight subjects (13 pre- and 15 post-integration) with open tibia shaft fractures (OTA/AO 42A, 42B, and 42C) treated with flap coverage between January 2009 and March 2015.

Intervention:

Flap coverage for open tibia shaft fractures treated before (“preintegration”) and after (“postintegration”) implementation of an integrated orthopaedic trauma/microsurgical team.

Main Outcome Measure:

Time from index injury to flap coverage.

Results:

The unadjusted median time to coverage was 7 days (95% confidence interval, 5.9–8.1) preintegration, and 6 days (95% confidence interval, 4.6–7.4) postintegration (P = 0.48). For preintegration, 9 (69%) of the patients experienced complications, compared with 7 (47%) postintegration (P = 0.23).

Conclusions:

After formation of an integrated orthopaedic trauma/microsurgery team, we observed a 1-day decrease in median days to coverage from index injury. Complications overall were lowered in the postintegration group, although statistically insignificant.

Level of Evidence:

Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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