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Five-year outcomes for patients sustaining severe fractures of the lower limb

mid-term results from the Wound management for Open Lower Limb Fracture (WOLLF) trial

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The aim of this study was to report the outcomes of patients with severe open fractures of the lower limb in the five years after they took part in the Wound management for Open Lower Limb Fracture (WOLLF) trial.


The WOLLF trial compared standard dressings to negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) applied at the end of the first surgical wound debridement, and patients were followed-up for 12 months. At 12 months, 170 of the original 460 participants agreed to take part in this medium-term follow-up study. Patients reported their Disability Rating Index (DRI) (0 to 100, where 100 is total disability) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) using the EuroQol five-dimension three-level health questionnaire (EQ-5D-3L) annually by self-reported questionnaire. Further surgical interventions related to the open fracture were also recorded.


There was no evidence of a difference in patient-reported disability, HRQoL, or the need for further surgery between patients treated with NPWT versus standard dressings at five years. Considering the combined results for all participants, there was a small but statistically significant change in DRI scores over time (1.6 units per year; p = 0.005), but no evidence that EQ-5D-3L scores changed significantly during years two to five (p = 0.551).


This study shows that the high levels of disability and reduced HRQoL reported by patients 12 months after severe open fractures of the lower limb persist in the medium term, with little evidence of improvement between years two and five.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2022;104-B(5):633–639.

Correspondence should be sent to Matt L. Costa. E-mail:

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