A case-control study of surgical site infection following operative fixation of fractures of the ankle in a large UK trauma unit

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Most of the literature on surgical site infections following the surgical treatment of fractures of the ankle is based on small series of patients, focusing on diabetics or the elderly. None have described post-operative functional scores in those patients who develop an infection. We performed an age- and gender-matched case-control study to identify patient- and surgery-related risk factors for surgical site infection following open reduction and internal fixation of a fracture of the ankle. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify significant risk factors for infection and to calculate odds ratios (OR). Function was assessed using the Olerud and Molander Ankle Score. The incidence of infection was 4% (29/717) and 1.1% (8/717) were deep infections. The median ankle score was significantly lower in the infection group compared with the control group (60vs90, Mann-Whitney test p < 0.0001). Multivariate regression analysis showed that diabetes (OR = 15, p = 0.031), nursing home residence (OR = 12, p = 0.018) and Weber C fractures (OR = 4, p = 0.048) were significant risk factors for infection.

A low incidence of infection following open reduction and internal fixation of fractures of the ankle was observed. Both superficial and deep infections result in lower functional scores.

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