Early fracture-related infections (FRIs) are a common entity in hospitals treating trauma patients. It is important to be aware of the consequences of FRI in order to be able to counsel patients about the expected course of their disease. Therefore, the aims of this study were to evaluate the recurrence rate, to establish the number of secondary surgical procedures needed to gain control of the initial infection, and to identify predictors for recurrence in patients with early FRI.
A retrospective multicentre cohort study was conducted in two level 1 trauma centres. All patients between January 1st 2015 to July 1st 2020 with confirmed FRI with an onset of <6 weeks after initial fracture fixation were included. Recorded data included patient demographics, trauma mechanism, clinical and laboratory findings, surgical procedure, microbiology, and follow-up. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to assess predictors for recurrent FRI.
A total of 166 patients were included in this study with a median age of 54.0 years (IQR 33.0–64.0). The cohort consisted of a majority of males (66.3%). Recurrence of FRI at one year follow-up was 11.4% and the overall recurrence rate within a median follow-up time of 24.0 months (IQR 15.4–36.9) was 18.1%. A total of 49.4% of patients needed at least one secondary procedure in order to treat the ongoing FRI, of whom 12.6% required at least three additional procedures. Predictors for recurrent FRI were use of an intramedullary nail during index operation (OR 4.343 (95% CI 1.448–13.028), p=0.009), need for at least one additional washout and debridement (OR 1.908 (95% CI 1.102–3.305), p=0.021), and a decrease in Injury Severity Score (ISS) (inverted OR 1.058 (95% CI 1.002–1.118), p=0.042).
An FRI recurrence rate of 18.1% and need for at least one additional surgical procedure to gain control of the initial infection of 49.4% were seen in our cohort. Predictors for recurrent FRI were respectively the use of an intramedullary nail during index operation, need for secondary procedures, and a decrease in ISS.
Results of this study can be used for preoperative counselling of early FRI patients.