Relationship between number of debridements and clinical outcomes in open tibia fractures requiring free flap coverage: A retrospective cohort study

Hayley Sacks, Jesse Hu, Agraharam Devendra, Shengnan Huang, Jamie Levine, S. Raja Sabapathy, Hari Venkatramani, David Brogan, Martin Boyer, Jacques Hacquebord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Open fractures with degloving injuries are commonly managed by serial debridements prior to definitive flap coverage in the United States (US). Some international institutions minimize the number of debridements prior to coverage. The purpose of this study was to compare clinical outcomes in patients with open tibia fractures requiring free flap coverage from institutions with differing debridement philosophies. Methods: This was a multi-site retrospective cohort study of patients treated at two US tertiary care facilities (serial debridement cohort) and one in India (early total debridement cohort) with Type IIIB or IIIC open tibia fractures requiring free tissue transfer. The number of debridements prior to flap coverage were recorded and primary outcomes were rates of infection, non-union, and flap failure. Fischer's exact tests were used to compare outcomes between the cohorts. Results: 80 patients were included, 44 from India and 36 from the US. Patients in the serial debridement cohort underwent more debridements prior to flap coverage (mean 3.64 vs 1.84, p < 0.001) and had significantly higher rates of infection and non-union compared to patients in the early total debridement cohort (p < 0.05). There were no differences in rates of flap failure between the cohorts. Conclusions: Patients with open tibia fractures treated at institutions favoring serial debridements underwent more debridements and had higher rates of infection and non-union compared to patients treated at a center favoring early total debridement. Serial debridements may not be necessary prior to flap coverage for open tibia fractures and the current practice should be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalOrthoplastic Surgery
Volume14
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Debridements
  • Free flap
  • Infection
  • Non-union
  • Open tibia fractures

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