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SA Orthopaedic Journal

On-line version ISSN 2309-8309
Print version ISSN 1681-150X


HILTON, TL et al. Gunshot tibia fractures treated with intramedullary nailing: A single centre retrospective review. SA orthop. j. [online]. 2017, vol.16, n.1, pp.32-38. ISSN 2309-8309.

BACKGROUND: Open tibia fractures are notoriously difficult to treat, with a high rate of union problems and infection. Gunshot wound-associated fractures of the tibia compound these issues further by causing extensive bone comminution and soft tissue damage. No universally accepted management protocol exists, but intramedullary (IM) nailing of these injuries is an attractive treatment strategy. It provides stable internal fixation and limits further insult to the soft tissue envelope. It also allows complete access for wound management and early range of movement of the adjacent joints. This study aims to review the results of patients treated with IM nailing for gunshot wound (GSW) tibia fractures to assess whether this is a viable treatment option for this injury. METHODS: A retrospective folder review was performed of all adult patients who sustained a GSW tibia fracture treated with intramedullary nailing between January 2009 and December 2014. Parameters evaluated included time to theatre, time to wound closure, radiographic extent of fracture comminution, anatomical alignment, time to union and incidence of chronic osteomyelitis. RESULTS: Twenty-two patients were eligible for inclusion; however, nine were lost to follow-up. The remaining 13 patients achieved union over an average of 26 weeks. Three cases developed osteomyelitis, all of which had radiographic zones of comminution exceeding 120 mm. No cases of malunion were reported and no other significant trends noted. CONCLUSION: Treatment of tibial gunshot fractures must be individualised according to both the soft tissue injury and radiographic zone of comminution in order to achieve a favourable outcome. Intramedullary nailing is an effective treatment strategy for low Gustilo-Anderson grade injuries, with minimal complications.

Keywords : gunshot wound; intramedullary nailing; tibia fracture.

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