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The outcome of tibial diaphyseal fractures in the elderly

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We describe the outcome of tibial diaphyseal fractures in the elderly (≥ 65 years of age). We prospectively followed 233 fractures in 225 elderly patients over a minimum ten-year period. Demographic and descriptive data were acquired from a prospective trauma database. Mortality status was obtained from the General Register Office database for Scotland. Diaphyseal fractures of the tibia in the elderly occurred predominantly in women (73%) and after a fall (61%). During the study period the incidence of these fractures decreased, nearly halving in number. The 120-day and one-year unadjusted mortality rates were 17% and 27%, respectively, and were significantly greater in patients with an open fracture (p < 0.001). The overall standardised mortality ratio (SMR) was significantly increased (SMR 4.4, p < 0.001) relative to the population at risk, and was greatest for elderly women (SMR 8.1, p < 0.001). These frailer patients had more severe injuries, with an increased rate of open fractures (30%), and suffered a greater rate of nonunion (10%).

Tibial diaphyseal fractures in the elderly are most common in women after a fall, are more likely to be open than in the rest of the population, and are associated with a high incidence of nonunion and mortality.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2013;95-B:1255–62.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr N. D. Clement; e-mail:

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