The management of open tibial fractures with associated soft-tissue loss: external pin fixation with early flap coverage

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
H S ByrdJ B Tebbetts

Abstract

Meaningful data on the management of open tibial fractures cannot be obtained unless one categorizes the injury according to fracture type, degree of soft-tissue loss, and the velocity of the injury. Treatment by converting the type III injury to a type II injury with well-vascularized soft tissue is presented. Eighteen patients with 20 type III and type IIIa wounds were treated in a prospective fashion employing a combined orthopedic and plastic surgical scheme based on the tenets of early radical debridement, a "second look" operation, muscle or muscle-skin flap cover within 5 days of injury, external pin fixation, and ambulation within the first 3 weeks of injury. All fractures united in a mean time of 4.0 months. The mean hospitalization was 4.2 weeks. There have been no chronic infection, osteomyelitis, nonunion, shortening, or tissue breakdown.

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