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The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 99-B, Issue 7 | Pages 964 - 972
1 Jul 2017
Duckworth AD Clement ND McEachan JE White TO Court-Brown CM McQueen MM


The aim of this prospective randomised controlled trial was to compare non-operative and operative management for acute isolated displaced fractures of the olecranon in patients aged ≥ 75 years.

Patients and Methods

Patients were randomised to either non-operative management or operative management with either tension-band wiring or fixation with a plate. They were reviewed at six weeks, three and six months and one year after the injury. The primary outcome measure was the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) score at one year.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 98-B, Issue 9 | Pages 1248 - 1252
1 Sep 2016
White TO Bugler KE Appleton P Will† E McQueen MM Court-Brown CM


The fundamental concept of open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of ankle fractures has not changed appreciably since the 1960s and, whilst widely used, is associated with complications including wound dehiscence and infection, prominent hardware and failure. Closed reduction and intramedullary fixation (CRIF) using a fibular nail, wires or screws is biomechanically stronger, requires minimal incisions, and has low-profile hardware. We hypothesised that fibular nailing in the elderly would have similar functional outcomes to standard fixation, with a reduced rate of wound and hardware problems.

Patients and Methods

A total of 100 patients (25 men, 75 women) over the age of 65 years with unstable ankle fractures were randomised to undergo standard ORIF or fibular nailing (11 men and 39 women in the ORIF group, 14 men and 36 women in the fibular nail group). The mean age was 74 years (65 to 93) and all patients had at least one medical comorbidity. Complications, patient related outcome measures and cost-effectiveness were assessed over 12 months.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 96-B, Issue 10 | Pages 1370 - 1377
1 Oct 2014
Connelly CL Bucknall V Jenkins PJ Court-Brown CM McQueen MM Biant LC

Fractures of the tibial shaft are common injuries, but there are no long-term outcome data in the era of increased surgical management. The aim of this prospective study was to assess the clinical and functional outcome of this injury at 12 to 22 years. Secondary aims were to determine the short- and long-term mortality, and if there were any predictors of clinical or functional outcome or mortality. From a prospective trauma database of 1502 tibial shaft fractures in 1474 consecutive adult patients, we identified a cohort of 1431 tibial diaphyseal fractures in 1403 patients, who fitted our inclusion criteria. There were 1024 men, and mean age at injury was 40.6 years. Fractures were classified according to the AO system, and open fractures graded after Gustilo and Anderson. Requirement of fasciotomy, time to fracture union, complications, incidence of knee and ankle pain at long-term follow-up, changes in employment and the patients’ social deprivation status were recorded. Function was assessed at 12 to 22 years post-injury using the Short Musculoskeletal Function Assessment and short form-12 questionnaires. Long-term functional outcome data was available for 568 of the surviving patients, 389 were deceased and 346 were lost to follow-up. Most fractures (90.7%, n = 1363) united without further intervention. Fasciotomies were performed in 11.5% of patients; this did not correlate with poorer functional outcome in the long term. Social deprivation was associated with a higher incidence of injury but had no impact on long-term function. The one-year mortality in those over 75 years of age was 29 (42%). At long-term follow-up, pain and function scores were good. However, 147 (26%) reported ongoing knee pain, 62 (10%) reported ankle pain and 97 (17%) reported both. Such joint pain correlated with poorer functional outcome.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:1370–7.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 96-B, Issue 7 | Pages 970 - 977
1 Jul 2014
Clement ND Duckworth AD McQueen MM Court-Brown CM

This study describes the epidemiology and outcome of 637 proximal humeral fractures in 629 elderly (≥ 65 years old) patients. Most were either minimally displaced (n = 278, 44%) or two-part fractures (n = 250, 39%) that predominantly occurred in women (n = 525, 82%) after a simple fall (n = 604, 95%), who lived independently in their own home (n = 560, 88%), and one in ten sustained a concomitant fracture (n = 76, 11.9%). The rate of mortality at one year was 10%, with the only independent predictor of survival being whether the patient lived in their own home (p = 0.025). Many factors associated with the patient’s social independence significantly influenced the age and gender adjusted Constant score one year after the fracture. More than a quarter of the patients had a poor functional outcome, with those patients not living in their own home (p = 0.04), participating in recreational activities (p = 0.01), able to perform their own shopping (p < 0.001), or able to dress themselves (p = 0.02) being at a significantly increased risk of a poor outcome, which was independent of the severity of the fracture (p = 0.001).

A poor functional outcome after a proximal humeral fracture is not independently influenced by age in the elderly, and factors associated with social independence are more predictive of outcome.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:970–7.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 96-B, Issue 7 | Pages 863 - 867
1 Jul 2014
Aitken SA Hutchison JD McQueen MM Court-Brown CM

Epidemiological studies enhance clinical practice in a number of ways. However, there are many methodological difficulties that need to be addressed in designing a study aimed at the collection and analysis of data concerning fractures and other injuries. Most can be managed and errors minimised if careful attention is given to the design and implementation of the research.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:863–7.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 96-B, Issue 3 | Pages 366 - 372
1 Mar 2014
Court-Brown CM Clement ND Duckworth AD Aitken S Biant LC McQueen MM

Fractures in patients aged ≥ 65 years constitute an increasing burden on health and social care and are associated with a high morbidity and mortality. There is little accurate information about the epidemiology of fractures in the elderly. We have analysed prospectively collected data on 4786 in- and out-patients who presented with a fracture over two one-year periods. Analysis shows that there are six patterns of the incidence of fractures in patients aged ≥ 65 years. In males six types of fracture increase in incidence after the age of 65 years and 11 types increase in females aged over 65 years. Five types of fracture decrease in incidence after the age of 65 years. Multiple fractures increase in incidence in both males and females aged ≥ 65 years, as do fractures related to falls.

Analysis of the incidence of fractures, together with life expectancy, shows that the probability of males and females aged ≥ 65 years having a fracture during the rest of their life is 18.5% and 52.0%, respectively. The equivalent figures for males and females aged ≥ 80 years are 13.3% and 34.8%, respectively.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:366–72.

The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 95-B, Issue 9 | Pages 1255 - 1262
1 Sep 2013
Clement ND Beauchamp NJF Duckworth AD McQueen MM Court-Brown CM

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.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 94-B, Issue 8 | Pages 1107 - 1112
1 Aug 2012
Bugler KE Watson CD Hardie AR Appleton P McQueen MM Court-Brown CM White TO

Techniques for fixation of fractures of the lateral malleolus have remained essentially unchanged since the 1960s, but are associated with complication rates of up to 30%. The fibular nail is an alternative method of fixation requiring a minimal incision and tissue dissection, and has the potential to reduce the incidence of complications.

We reviewed the results of 105 patients with unstable fractures of the ankle that were fixed between 2002 and 2010 using the Acumed fibular nail. The mean age of the patients was 64.8 years (22 to 95), and 80 (76%) had significant systemic medical comorbidities. Various different configurations of locking screw were assessed over the study period as experience was gained with the device. Nailing without the use of locking screws gave satisfactory stability in only 66% of cases (4 of 6). Initial locking screw constructs rendered between 91% (10 of 11) and 96% (23 of 24) of ankles stable. Overall, seven patients had loss of fixation of the fracture and there were five post-operative wound infections related to the distal fibula. This lead to the development of the current technique with a screw across the syndesmosis in addition to a distal locking screw. In 21 patients treated with this technique there have been no significant complications and only one superficial wound infection. Good fracture reduction was achieved in all of these patients. The mean physical component Short-Form 12, Olerud and Molander score, and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Foot and Ankle outcome scores at a mean of six years post-injury were 46 (28 to 61), 65 (35 to 100) and 83 (52 to 99), respectively. There have been no cases of fibular nonunion.

Nailing of the fibula using our current technique gives good radiological and functional outcomes with minimal complications, and should be considered in the management of patients with an unstable ankle fracture.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 94-B, Issue 7 | Pages 961 - 968
1 Jul 2012
Duckworth AD Buijze GA Moran M Gray A Court-Brown CM Ring D McQueen MM

A prospective study was performed to develop a clinical prediction rule that incorporated demographic and clinical factors predictive of a fracture of the scaphoid. Of 260 consecutive patients with a clinically suspected or radiologically confirmed scaphoid fracture, 223 returned for evaluation two weeks after injury and formed the basis of our analysis. Patients were evaluated within 72 hours of injury and at approximately two and six weeks after injury using clinical assessment and standard radiographs. Demographic data and the results of seven specific tests in the clinical examination were recorded.

There were 116 (52%) men and their mean age was 33 years (13 to 95; sd 17.9). In 62 patients (28%) a scaphoid fracture was confirmed. A logistic regression model identified male gender (p = 0.002), sports injury (p = 0.004), anatomical snuff box pain on ulnar deviation of the wrist within 72 hours of injury (p < 0.001), and scaphoid tubercle tenderness at two weeks (p < 0.001) as independent predictors of fracture. All patients with no pain at the anatomical snuff box on ulnar deviation of the wrist within 72 hours of injury did not have a fracture (n = 72, 32%). With four independently significant factors positive, the risk of fracture was 91%.

Our study has demonstrated that clinical prediction rules have a considerable influence on the probability of a suspected scaphoid fracture. This will help improve the use of supplementary investigations where the diagnosis remains in doubt.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 94-B, Issue 2 | Pages 231 - 236
1 Feb 2012
Clement ND Aitken S Duckworth AD McQueen MM Court-Brown CM

We present the prevalence of multiple fractures in the elderly in a single catchment population of 780 000 treated over a 12-month period and describe the mechanisms of injury, common patterns of occurrence, management, and the associated mortality rate. A total of 2335 patients, aged ≥ 65 years of age, were prospectively assessed and of these 119 patients (5.1%) presented with multiple fractures. Distal radial (odds ratio (OR) 5.1, p <  0.0001), proximal humeral (OR 2.2, p < 0.0001) and pelvic (OR 4.9, p < 0.0001) fractures were associated with an increased risk of sustaining associated fractures. Only 4.5% of patients sustained multiple fractures after a simple fall, but due to the frequency of falls in the elderly this mechanism resulted in 80.7% of all multiple fractures. Most patients required admission (> 80%), of whom 42% did not need an operation but more than half needed an increased level of care before discharge (54%). The standardised mortality rate at one year was significantly greater after sustaining multiple fractures that included fractures of the pelvis, proximal humerus or proximal femur (p < 0.001). This mortality risk increased further if patients were < 80 years of age, indicating that the existence of multiple fractures after low-energy trauma is a marker of mortality.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 93-B, Issue 6 | Pages 806 - 810
1 Jun 2011
Clement ND Aitken SA Duckworth AD McQueen MM Court-Brown CM

We compared case-mix and outcome variables in 1310 patients who sustained an acute fracture at the age of 80 years or over. A group of 318 very elderly patients (≥ 90 years) was compared with a group of 992 elderly patients (80 to 89 years), all of whom presented to a single trauma unit between July 2007 and June 2008. The very elderly group represented only 0.6% of the overall population, but accounted for 4.1% of all fractures and 9.3% of all orthopaedic trauma admissions. Patients in this group were more likely to require hospital admission (odds ratio 1.4), less likely to return to independent living (odds ratio 3.1), and to have a significantly longer hospital stay (ten days, p = 0.01).

The 30- and 120-day unadjusted mortality was greater in the very elderly group. The 120-day mortality associated with non-hip fractures of the lower limb was equal to that of proximal femoral fractures, and was significantly increased with a delay to surgery > 48 hours for both age groups (p = 0.04). This suggests that the principle of early surgery and mobilisation of elderly patients with hip fractures should be extended to include all those in this vulnerable age group.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 90-B, Issue 11 | Pages 1482 - 1486
1 Nov 2008
Menon MRG Walker JL Court-Brown CM

A relationship between social deprivation and the incidence of fracture in adolescents has not previously been shown. We have used a complete fracture database to identify adolescents who sustained fractures in 2000. The 2001 Scottish census was used to obtain age-specific population and deprivation data according to the Carstairs score. Regression analysis determined the relationship between the incidence of fractures and social deprivation.

We analysed 1574 adolescents with fractures (1083 male, 491 female). The incidence of fractures in this group was 21.8 per thousand (31.0 male, 13.1 female). Social deprivation predicted the incidence in adolescent males and females. The incidence of fractures of the proximal upper limb and distal radius in females was overwhelmingly influenced by socioeconomic factors. Males of 15 to 20 years of age were more likely to sustain fractures of the hand and carpus if they lived in economically depressed neighbourhoods.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 85-B, Issue 7 | Pages 1089 - 1089
1 Sep 2003
Court-Brown CM

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 84-B, Issue 5 | Pages 776 - 776
1 Jul 2002

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 84-B, Issue 4 | Pages 504 - 508
1 May 2002
Court-Brown CM Cattermole H McQueen MM

We present a retrospective study of 125 patients with an impacted valgus fracture (B1.1) of the proximal humerus. This fracture rarely occurs in young patients and is much more common in elderly fit subjects. All patients were documented prospectively and followed for one year. None was treated surgically.

At one year, 80.6% of the patients had a good or excellent result, the quality of which depended on the age of the patient and the degree of displacement of the fracture. Mean outcome scores based on these two parameters are presented. A comparison with data from other studies suggests that operative fixation of these fractures is not necessary.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 83-B, Issue 6 | Pages 799 - 804
1 Aug 2001
Court-Brown CM Garg A McQueen MM

We have undertaken a five-year prospective study of 126 translated two-part fractures of the proximal humerus and present an analysis of the epidemiology and of the factors which affect outcome in elderly patients.

The fracture has a unimodal age distribution and rarely affects adults under the age of 50 years. Analysis showed that patients with two-part translated fractures of the surgical neck tended to be independent and relatively fit, despite the fact that their mean age was 72 years. Outcome was determined by the age of each patient and the degree of translation on the initial anteroposterior radiograph. Surgery did not improve the outcome, regardless of the degree of translation.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 82-B, Issue 8 | Pages 1113 - 1116
1 Nov 2000
Keating JF Blachut PA O’Brien PJ Court-Brown CM

Reamed intramedullary nailing was carried out on 57 Gustilo grade-IIIB tibial fractures in 55 patients. After debridement, there was substantial bone loss in 28 fractures (49%). The mean time to union was 43 weeks (14 to 94). When there was no bone loss, the mean time to union was 32 weeks; it was 45 weeks if there was bone loss. Fractures complicated by infection took a mean of 53 weeks to heal. Revision nailing was necessary in 13 fractures (23%) and bone grafting in 15 (26%). In ten fractures (17.5%) infection developed, in four within six weeks of injury and in six more than four months later. Of these, nine were treated successfully, but one patient required an amputation because of osteomyelitis.

Our results indicate that reamed intramedullary nailing is a satisfactory treatment for Gustilo grade-III tibial fractures.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 82-B, Issue 3 | Pages 326 - 331
1 Apr 2000
Gaston P Will E McQueen MM Elton RA Court-Brown CM

We examined the recovery of power in the muscles of the lower limb after fracture of the tibial diaphysis, using a Biodex dynamometer. Recovery in all muscle groups was rapid for 15 to 20 weeks following fracture after which it slowed. Two weeks after fracture the knee flexors and extensors have about 40% of normal power, which rises to 75% to 85% after one year. The dorsiflexors and plantar flexors of the ankle and the invertors and evertors of the subtalar joint are much weaker two weeks after injury, but at one year their mean power is more than that of the knee flexors and extensors.

Our findings showed that age, the mode of injury, fracture morphology, the presence of an open wound and the Tscherne grade of closed fractures correlated with muscle power. It is age, however, which mainly determines muscle recovery after fracture of the tibial diaphysis.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 82-B, Issue 2 | Pages 200 - 203
1 Mar 2000
McQueen MM Gaston P Court-Brown CM

We have analysed associated factors in 164 patients with acute compartment syndrome whom we treated over an eight-year period. In 69% there was an associated fracture, about half of which were of the tibial shaft. Most patients were men, usually under 35 years of age. Acute compartment syndrome of the forearm, with associated fracture of the distal end of the radius, was again seen most commonly in young men. Injury to soft tissues, without fracture, was the second most common cause of the syndrome and one-tenth of the patients had a bleeding disorder or were taking anticoagulant drugs. We found that young patients, especially men, were at risk of acute compartment syndrome after injury. When treating such injured patients, the diagnosis should be made early, utilising measurements of tissue pressure.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 81-B, Issue 1 | Pages 71 - 76
1 Jan 1999
Gaston P Will E Elton RA McQueen MM Court-Brown CM

We have carried out a prospective study to determine whether the basic descriptive criteria and classifications of diaphyseal fractures of the tibia determine prognosis, as is widely believed. A number of systems which are readily available were used, with outcome being determined by standard measurements including fracture union, the need for secondary surgery and the incidence of infection. Many validated functional outcomes were also used. The Tscherne classification of closed fractures proved to be slightly more predictive of outcome than the others, but our findings indicate that such systems have little predictive value.