Publication Date



Bone & Joint Open


AIMS: To compare results of institutional preferences with regard to treatment of soft tissues in the setting of open tibial shaft fractures.

METHODS: We present a retrospective review of open tibial shaft fractures at two high-volume level 1 trauma centres with differing practices with regard to the acute management of soft tissues. Site 1 attempts acute primary closure, while site 2 prefers delayed closure/coverage. Comparisons include percentage of primary closure, number of surgical procedures until definitive closure, percentage requiring soft tissue coverage, and percentage of 90-day wound complication.

RESULTS: Overall, there were 219 patients at site 1 and 282 patients at site 2. Differences in rates of acute wound closure were seen (168 (78%) at site 1 vs 101 (36%) at site 2). A mean of 1.5 procedures for definitive closure was seen at site 1 compared to 3.4 at site 2. No differences were seen in complication, nonunion, or amputation rates. Similar results were seen in a sub-analysis of type III injuries.

CONCLUSION: Comparing outcomes of open tibial shaft fractures at two institutions with different rates initial wound management, no differences were seen in 90-day wound complications, nonunion rates, or need for amputation. Attempted acute closure resulted in a lower number of planned secondary procedures when compared with planned delayed closure. Providers should consider either acute closure or delayed coverage based on the injury characteristics, surgeon preference and institutional resources without concern that the decision at the time of index surgery will lead to an increased risk of complication.Cite this article:


Open tibia fracture, open fracture, Soft tissue management


PMID: 33215142

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