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The role of local antibiotic therapy in the management of compound fractures

Ostermann PA. Henry SL. Seligson D. Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research. (295):102-11, 1993 Oct. Seven hundred four compound fractures (198 [28%] Grade I, 259 [37%] Grade II, and 247 [35%] Grade III) were treated during a seven-year period at the author's institution. One hundred fifty-seven open fractures (22%) (Group A) received systemic antibiotic prophylaxis only, whereas 547 compound fractures (78%) (Group B) were treated with local application of antibiotic beads (tobramycin) in addition to prophylaxis. Fracture grades, age, gender, fracture location, and length of follow-up period were not significantly different between the two groups. All fractures underwent timely irrigation, debridement, and skeletal stabilization. Forty-nine of 704 compound fractures (7%) developed an infection (acute wound infection or chronic osteomyelitis or both). Group A showed an infection rate of 17% (26/157); treatment in Group B resulted in 23 compound fracture infections (4.2%). The difference in the incidence of infection was statistically significant. Comparison of the infection rates in either wound infection or chronic osteomyelitis showed a trend toward decreased rates in Group B versus Group A throughout all fracture grades. However, by subdivision into the fracture grades, only the IIIB types had a statistically significant decrease of infection in Group B versus Group A; the wound infection rate was 39% (9/23) in Group A and 7.3% (7/96) in Group B. The rate of chronic osteomyelitis was 26% (6/23) in Group A and 6.3% (6/96) in Group B. Prophylactic use of antibiotic-laden PMMA beads in addition to systemic antibiotics was of benefit in preventing infectious complications in compound fractures, in particular in Type IIIB open fractures.

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