The management of patients with femoral shaft fractures (FSFs) is often a decision making dilemma (damage-control orthopedics vs. early total care), with equivocal evidence. The comprehensive, population-based epidemiology of patients with FSF is unknown. The purpose of this prospective study was to describe the epidemiology of patients with FSF, with special focus on patient physiology and timing of surgery.METHODS
A 12-month prospective population-based study was performed on consecutive patients with FSF in an area with 850,000 population including all ages and prehospital deaths. Patient demographics, mechanism, Injury Severity Score (ISS), shock parameters (systolic blood pressure, base deficit and lactate), transfusion requirement, fracture type [Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen/Orthopaedic Trauma Association classification (OA/OTA)], comorbidities, procedures, and outcomes were recorded. Patients hemodynamic status was described as stable, borderline, unstable, and “in extremis.”RESULTS
A total of 126 patients (21 per 100,000 per year) with 136 femur fractures (62% male; age, 38  years; ISS, 20 ; 51% multiple injuries) were identified in the region. Sixty patients (48.4%) sustained a high-energy injury with 19 (31.1%) of these being polytrauma patients (ISS, 28 ; systolic blood pressure, 98 ; base deficit, 6.5 [5.8]; lactate 4 ).Fifteen polytrauma patients (94%) required massive transfusion (12  U of packed red blood cells, 8  fresh frozen plasma, 1 [0.4] platelet, 13  cryoprecipitate). Twenty-one patients (16.7%) died at the prehospital setting (3.5 per 100,000 per year). From the 105 hospital admissions, 68.3% was stable (14.3 per 100,000 per year), 8.7% was borderline (1.8 per 100,000 per year), 4.0% was unstable (0.8 per 100,000 per year) and 2.4% (0.5 per 100,000 per year) was in extremis. Six patients (5.7%) died. The length of stay (LOS) was 18 (15) days, and the intensive care unit LOS was 5 (6) days. Fourty-five patients sustained a low-energy injury that had in 85% of cases multiple comorbidities. Eight low-energy patients needed 3 (1) transfusions, and none of the patients died. The LOS was 15 (11) days.CONCLUSION
Patients with low-energy FSF have a hospital admission rate similar to the patients with high-energy FSF. Sixty-eight percent of patients with FSF are complicated (open, compromised physiology, multiple injuries, bilateral, elderly with comorbidities, etc.), requiring major resources and highly specialized care.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
Epidemiology study, level III.