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The Orthopaedic Trauma Society classification of open fractures

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To describe a new objective classification for open fractures of the lower limb and to correlate the classification with patient-centred outcomes.


The proposed classification was investigated within a cohort of adults with open fractures of the lower limb who were recruited as part of two large clinical trials within the UK Major Trauma Network. The classification was correlated with patient-reported Disability Rating Index (DRI) and EuroQol five-dimension questionnaire (EQ-5D) health-related quality of life in the year after injury, and with deep infection at 30 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition of a deep surgical site infection.


A total of 748 participants were included in the analysis. Of these, 288 (38.5%) had a simple open fracture and 460 (61.5%) had a complex fracture as defined by the new classification system. At 12 months, the mean DRI in the simple fracture group was 32.5 (SD 26.8) versus 43.9 (SD 26.1) in the complex fracture group (odds ratio (OR) 8.19; 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.69 to 12.69). At 12 months the mean health-related quality of life (EQ-5D utility) in the simple fracture group was 0.59 (SD 0.29) versus 0.56 (SD 0.32) in the complex fracture group (OR -0.03; 95% CI -0.09 to 0.02). The differences in the rate of deep infection at 30 days was not statistically significant.


The Orthopaedic Trauma Society open fracture classification is based upon objective descriptors of the injury and correlates with patient-centred outcomes in a large cohort of open fractures of the lower limb.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(11):1469–1474.

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

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