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Journal Article


Perkins C, Buck JS, Karunakar MA. Bull. Hosp. Jt. Dis. (2013) 2019; 77(3): 211-215.


(Copyright © 2019, J. Michael Ryan Publishing)






INTRODUCTION: Spinal cord injured patients have an estimated 25% to 34% lifetime incidence of sustaining an extremity fracture. The objective of this study is to describe the outcomes of femur fractures treated in patients with pre-existing spinal cord injury (SCI) and lower extremity paraplegia.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: An IRB approved retrospective review of patients 18 years of age and older who sustained a femur fracture a minimum of 2 years following spinal cord injury and received treatment at a regional academic level 1 trauma center over a 10-year period was performed. Patients were divided into two groups based on whether they received operative or nonoperative management of the femoral shaft fracture. The primary outcome assessed was re-operation. Additional outcomes including union, infection, implant failure, and mortality were recorded.

RESULTS: Twenty-one patients sustaining a total of 25 femur fractures were identified. The most common mechanism of injury was fall during transfer. Sixteen fractures were treated non-operatively and nine were treated operatively. At a mean of 4.1 years of follow-up (range: 1.1 to 12.1 years) six out of nine (66.7%) patients in the operative group required an unplanned secondary surgery compared to two patients (12.5%) in the non-operative group (p = 0.006). Overall, the rate of fracture union was 48%, and there was no difference seen between treatment groups (56.3% in nonoperative group versus 33.3% in operative group, p = 0.28). Six operative patients (66.7%) developed an infection as compared to one patient (6.3%) in the non-operative group (p = 0.002). Three operative patients (33.3%) had failure of fixation with implant cutout. One patient died within 2 years of fracture in the non-operative group (6.3%) as did one patient in the operative group (11.1%), (p = 1.0).

CONCLUSIONS: Surgical treatment of femur fractures in patients with a pre-existing SCI and lower extremity paraplegia had a higher rate of complications than nonoperative management in our series. Based on our experience, we recommend non-operative treatment of femur fractures in patients with pre-existing spinal cord injury and lower extremity paraplegia.

Language: en


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