The principle strategies of fracture-related infection (FRI) treatment are debridement, antimicrobial therapy, and implant retention (DAIR) or debridement, antimicrobial therapy, and implant removal/exchange. Increasing the period between fracture fixation and FRI revision surgery is believed to be associated with higher failure rates after DAIR. However, a clear time-related cut-off has never been scientifically defined. This systematic review analyzed the influence of the interval between fracture fixation and FRI revision surgery on success rates after DAIR.
A systematic literature search was performed according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, in PubMed (including MEDLINE), Embase, and Web of Science Core Collection, investigating the outcome after DAIR procedures of long bone FRIs in clinical studies published until January 2020.
Six studies, comprising 276 patients, met the inclusion criteria. Data from this review showed that with a short duration of infection (up to three weeks) and under strict preconditions, retention of the implant is associated with high success rates of 86% to 100%. In delayed infections with a fracture fixation-FRI revision surgery interval of three to ten weeks, absence of recurrent infection was reported in 82% to 89%. Data on late FRIs, with a fracture fixation-FRI revision surgery interval of more than ten weeks, are scarce and a success rate of 67% was reported.
Acute/early FRI, with a short duration of infection, can successfully be treated with DAIR up to ten weeks after osteosynthesis. The limited available data suggest that chronic/late onset FRI treated with DAIR may be associated with a higher rate of recurrence. Successful outcome is dependent on managing all aspects of the infection. Thus, time from fracture fixation is not the only factor that should be considered in treatment planning of FRI. Due to the heterogeneity of the available data, these conclusions have to be interpreted with caution.
Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(2):213–221.