Outcome Following Open Reduction and Internal Fixation of Open Pilon Fractures

Boraiah, Sreevathsa; Kemp, Travis J.; Erwteman, Andrew; Lucas, Paul A.; Asprinio, David E.
February 2010
Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, American Volume;Feb2010, Vol. 92-A Issue 2, p346
Academic Journal
Background: A variety of treatment options exist for open pilon fractures of the distal end of the tibia. In this study, we evaluated the use of a staged protocol designed to minimize the risk of soft-tissue complications and to allow for optimal reduction of the fracture. Methods: Sixty-eight patients presenting with an open pilon fracture were identified from a prospectively maintained database of 186 consecutive patients. Fifty-nine of the sixty-eight patients, with an average age of forty-seven years, were followed for an average of thirty-four months and formed the study cohort. Within this group, there were two grade-I, three grade-Il, thirty-seven grade-lIlA, and seventeen grade-IIIB open injuries. Clinical and radiographic outcomes were as- sessed by individuals not involved in the treatment of the patients. Functional outcome was assessed, with use of the modified Mazur scoring system and Short Form-36 Version 2.0 questionnaire, for thirty-eight patients who were followed for a minimum of two years. Results: Fifty-two of the fifty-nine fractures healed. Six fractures had bone-grafting, and each progressed uneventfully to union. One patient required an amputation following a failed free tissue transfer. Two patients (3%) were deemed to have a deep wound infection and were successfully treated with a six-week course of culture-specific intravenous antibiotics. Three patients (5%) had a superficial wound infection that was successfully treated with oral antibiotics. The average physical component score on the Short Form-36 Version 2.0 was 40.3 points. The average mental component score (54.9 points) was better than the age-matched norm in the majority of the age groups. The average modified Mazur score was 44.8 of a possible 100, with most patients scoring in the poor range. Conclusions: Open reduction and internal fixation of open pilon fractures was accomplished with an acceptable outcome and a low prevalence of soft-tissue complications. We believe these results can be reproduced through routine use of an individualized treatment algorithm including the use of staged procedures, meticulous soft-tissue management, liberal use of temporizing external fixation, and a patient-specific approach to fixation and soft-tissue coverage.


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