Treatment outcomes of civilian gunshot tibia fractures at a major trauma centre
Keywords:tibia, gunshot, fracture, outcome
The aim of this retrospective longitudinal study was to describe the overall burden and outcomes of surgically managed gunshot tibia fractures at a major trauma centre. Secondary objectives were to identify possible risk factors for complications including non-union and infection and to highlight any differences in outcomes between treatment modalities.
All consecutive patients who sustained gunshot injuries to the tibia between January 2014 and December 2017 including children and multiple gunshots injuries were considered for inclusion. Information related to patient demographics, injury characteristics, treatment information and treatment outcomes with respect to rate of fracture union and occurrence of infection were obtained from patient records. All patients with insufficient medical records were excluded.
The records of 197 patients who sustained gunshot tibia fractures were reviewed. The mean follow-up was 4.1 months (interquartile range [IQR] 2.5–6.8). The majority of cases were young males (89%) with a mean age of 29.2±10.2 years. Extra-articular diaphyseal fractures were observed in the majority of cases (91%). Definitive treatment included formal debridement in theatre and plaster cast immobilisation (44%), intramedullary nail fixation (27%), circular external fixation (22%) and plate fixation (7%). The study revealed an overall fracture-related infection (FRI) rate of 11% and bone union rate of 91%. Circular external fixation showed the lowest fracture union rate (86%) and highest FRI rate (21%) of the modalities included in this study. No associations between independent risk factors and presence of complications were identified.
The study reports encouraging outcomes for tibia fractures caused by civilian gunshot injuries. Various definitive surgical stabilisation techniques showed high proportions of union and low burden of FRI.
Level of evidence: Level 4