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J Bone Jt Infect. 2019 Jan 24;4(1):27-32. doi: 10.7150/jbji.30158. eCollection 2019.

Subcutaneous Radiographic Measurement: A Marker to Evaluate Surgical Site Infection Risk in Elderly Hip Fracture Patients.

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Department of Traumatology and Orthopedic Surgery, Hospital Universitari Mútua Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Surgery, Universitat de Barcelona.


Objectives: Obesity is a documented comorbidity that is prevalent in the elderly population and a known predictor for surgical site infection (SSI). Body mass index is a convenient method to classify obesity, but it fails to account for fat distribution. The objective of our study was to evaluate the association between surgical site infection and a subcutaneous radiographic measurement (SRM) in elderly hip fracture patients. Materials and Methods: A retrospective case-control study was conducted to compare SRMs at the hip in patients diagnosed with surgical site infection after hip fracture surgery with patients that were not diagnosed with surgical site infection. Each case was matched to two controls. An SRM was defined as the distance from the tip of the greater trochanter to the skin following a perpendicular line to the femoral diaphysis in anteroposterior hip radiographs. Clinical diagnosis of acute surgical site infection was based on Tsukayama criteria. Results: Patients with an SRM greater than 6.27cm had a 7-fold increase in the odds of surgical site infection (OR=7.42, 95% Confidence Interval (CI)=3.01-18.28, p<0.001) compared to those with smaller measurements. The odds ratio (OR) for infection of patients with an ASA score of 3 was 15.82(95% CI=5.11-48.9, p-value<0.001) A statistically significant difference between cases and controls was also found when SRM at the hip was analyzed as a continuous variable. Patients with an infection had a 2.24cm (95% CI=1.59 - 2.90; p<0.001) greater mean SRM. Conclusion: Results of our study suggest an association between the SRM at the hip and the risk of SSI in elderly patients with surgically treated hip fractures. SRM may be a helpful tool for evaluating the risk of SSI in elderly hip fracture patients.


elderly; hip fracture; radiographic measurement; surgical site infection

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.

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