The “Road to Union” protocol for the reconstruction of isolated complex high-energy tibial trauma

Erik Hohmann, Franz Birkholtz, Vaida Glatt, Kevin Tetsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction The purpose of this study was to describe a standardized staged approach, “The Road to Union”, for the reconstruction of isolated complex tibial trauma, both acute and chronic in nature. Methods This retrospective study included all patients treated for complex tibial trauma at a specialized limb reconstruction centre, including acute open fracture as well as infected and aseptic non-unions. This standardized approach includes eight specific steps, employed in sequence. The time in external fixation (EFT), the external fixation index (EFI), and the distraction consolidation index (DCI) were the primary outcome measures. The relationship between EFI and DCI was assessed using Pearson's moment correlations. Results Thirty-two patients with a mean age of 34.7 ± 14.2 years were included; 12 were treated for complex open tibial fractures with bone loss, 13 for infected non-unions, and 6 for aseptic non-union. The mean bone defect was 66 ± 32 mm. The total EFT was 42.5 ± 14.8 weeks; the EFI measured 51.9 ± 25.3 days/cm, and the DCI measured 48.3 ± 21.4 days/cm. Union was achieved in 29 out of 32 patients (91%), and there was a strong and significant relationship between EFI and DCI (r = 0.92, p = 0.0001) measurements. Pin site infections were observed in 11 patients, and 3 patients had persistent non-union. Three patients underwent delayed amputations when reconstructive procedures were unable to achieve union. Conclusion The findings of this study demonstrate that a standardized staged treatment protocol of debridement, circular external fixation, soft-tissue management, distraction osteogenesis, and functional rehabilitation can result in a high rate of union in cases of complex tibial trauma, both acute and chronic in nature. Level of evidence Level IV; case series

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1211-1216
Number of pages6
JournalInjury
Volume48
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Keywords

  • Bone loss
  • Bone transport
  • Complex trauma
  • Infection
  • Limb reconstruction
  • Nonunion
  • Tibial fractures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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