Today, there is a trend toward damage-control orthopedics (DCO) in the management of multiple trauma patients with long bone fractures. However, there is no widely accepted concept. A risk-adapted approach seems to result in low acute morbidity and mortality. Multiple trauma patients with bilateral femoral shaft fractures (FSFs) are considered to be more severely injured. The objective of this study was to validate the risk-adapted approach in the management of multiple trauma patients with bilateral FSF.METHODS
Data analysis is based on the trauma registry of the German Trauma Society (1993–2008, n = 42,248). Multiple trauma patients with bilateral FSF were analyzed in subgroups according to the type of primary operative strategy. Outcome parameters were mortality and major complications as (multiple) organ failure and sepsis.RESULTS
A total of 379 patients with bilateral FSF were divided into four groups as follows: (1) no operation (8.4%), (2) bilateral temporary external fixation (DCO) (50.9%), bilateral primary definitive osteosynthesis (early total care [ETC]) (25.1%), and primary definitive osteosynthesis of one FSF and DCO contralaterally (mixed) (15.6%). Compared with the ETC group, the DCO group was more severely injured. The incidence of (multiple) organ failure and mortality rates were higher in the DCO group but without significance. Adjusted for injury severity, there was no significant difference of mortality rates between DCO and ETC. Injury severity and mortality rates were significantly increased in the no-operation group. The mixed group was similar to the ETC group regarding injury severity and outcome.CONCLUSION
In Germany, both DCO and ETC are practiced in multiple trauma patients with bilateral FSF so far. The unstable or potentially unstable patient is reasonably treated with DCO. The clearly stable patient is reasonably treated with nailing. When in doubt, the patient is probably not totally stable, and the safest precaution may be to use DCO as a risk-adapted approach.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Therapeutic study, level IV. Epidemiologic study, level III.