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Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2001 Jun;121(6):325-8.

The influence of fracture etiology and type on fracture healing: a review of 104 consecutive tibial shaft fractures.

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Department of Orthopedics Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, Sweden.


This study was conducted to determine retrospectively the factors which influence fracture healing and risk for nonunion in patients with tibial shaft fractures. One hundred consecutive patients with 104 tibial shaft fractures and a mean age of 40 (14-85) years were reviewed. Fractures were classified according to the AO classification system. There were 22 open fractures and 52 comminuted fractures. Thirty-eight fractures were caused by high-energy trauma. Fracture pattern, soft-tissue condition, level of energy of the trauma, malalignment, and treatment methods were identified. The influence of these factors on the time of hospital stay and sick-leave, delayed union, and nonunion were calculated. Normal healing occurred in 61 fractures with a mean healing time of 17 weeks, delayed union in 27 with a mean of 35 weeks, and nonunion in 16 with a mean of 69 weeks. The relative risk of developing nonunion in open fractures was 8.2 (CI = 2.9-10.5) and 2.9 (CI = 1.2-3.2) in fractures exposed to high-energy trauma. This study showed that the soft-tissue condition and level of trauma energy are good predictors for the development of complications. Considering these risk factors at an early stage in the planning of treatment might reduce the risk of nonunion. ergy level of the trauma, fracture comminution, initial fracture displacement, treatment method, contamination, and associated injuries will influence fracture healing. Conservative treatment has in general been recommended for undisplaced closed or grade I open fractures caused by low-energy trauma [15, 18, 21]. However, conservative treatment of a tibial shaft fracture means immobilization of the lower leg for a long period of time, especially if healing is delayed. Thus, it is important to consider the risk of healing complications when planning the appropriate treatment method in the early stage after the injury. The purpose of this study was to analyze complications such as delayed union and nonunion and to identify factors which affect the healing of tibial shaft fractures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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