Injury. 2022 Dec;53(12):4104-4113. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2022.10.019. Epub 2022 Oct 21.
BACKGROUND: High energy open tibial fractures are complex injuries with no consensus on the optimal method of fixation. Treatment outcomes are often reported with union and re-operation rates, often without specific definitions being provided. We sought to describe union, reoperation rates, and patient reported outcomes, using the validated EQ-VAS and Disability Rating Index (DRI) scores, following stabilisation with a Taylor Spatial Frame (TSF) and a combined orthoplastic approach for the management of soft tissues. A literature review is also provided.
METHOD: A prospective cross-sectional follow up of open tibial fractures, treated at a level 1 major trauma centre, managed with a TSF using a one ring per segment technique between January 2014 and December 2019 were identified. Demographic, injury and operative data were recorded, along with Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROM) scores, specifically the EQ-VAS and Disability Rating Index (DRI). Union rates, defined by radiographic union scale in tibia (RUST) scores, and re-operation rates were recorded. Appropriate statistical analyses were performed, with a p<0.05 considered statistically significant.
RESULTS: Overall, 51 patients were included. Mean age was 51.2 ± 17.4 years, with a 4:1 male preponderance. Diaphyseal and distal fractures accounted for 76% of cases. Mean time in frame was 206.7 ± 149.4 days. Union was defined and was achieved in 41/51 (80.4%) patients. Deep infection occurred in 6/51 (11.8%) patients. Amputation was performed in 1 case (1.9%). Overall re-operation rate was 33%. Time to union were significantly longer if re-operation was required for any reason (uncomplicated 204±189 vs complicated 304±155 days; p = 0.0017) . EQ-VAS and DRI scores significantly deteriorated at 1 year follow-up (EQVAS 87.5 ± 11.7 vs 66.5 ± 20.4;p<0.0001 and DRI 11.9 ± 17.8 vs 39.3 ± 23.3;p<0.0001). At 1 year post op, 23/51(45.1%) required a walking aid, and 17/29 (58.6%) of those working pre-injury had returned to work.
CONCLUSION: Open tibial fracture have significant morbidity and long recovery periods as determined by EQVAS and DRI outcome measures. We report the largest series of open tibial feature treated primarily with a TSF construct, which has similar outcomes to other techniques, and should therefore be considered as a useful technique for managing these injuries.