JOURNAL ARTICLE

Surgical treatment of open pilon fractures

Xian-tie Zeng, Gui-gen Pang, Bao-tong Ma, Xiao-long Mei, Xiang Sun, Jia Wang, Peng Jia
Orthopaedic Surgery 2011, 3 (1): 45-51
22009980

OBJECTIVE: To discuss the methods, timing and clinical outcomes of surgical treatment for open pilon fractures.

METHODS: From April 2003 to July 2008, 28 patients with open pilon fractures were treated. All had type C fractures according to the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für osteosynthesefragen-Association for the Study of Internal Fixation (AO/ASIF) classification. Three operative methods were applied, the methods being determined by the types of fracture, soft tissue damage and time interval after injury. Seven cases were treated by debridement and internal fixation with plate; 19 by limited internal fixation combined with external fixation; and 2 by delayed surgery. The clinical outcomes were evaluated by the Burwell-Charnley score.

RESULTS: All cases were followed up for from 6 to 48 months (average 24 months). The Burwell-Charnley score of clinical outcomes: anatomic reduction achieved in 12 cases, functional reduction in 15, and unsatisfactory reduction in 1. The healing time was from 2.5 to 11 months (average 4.7 months). Two cases had delayed union. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) scale for the ankle joint, there were excellent results in 8 cases, good in 14, fair in 5 and poor in 1. Complications included four cases of skin superficial sloughing, two of superficial infection, one of deep infection, two of delayed fracture union and ten of post-traumatic arthritis.

CONCLUSION: It is important to perform appropriate surgeries for open pilon fracture according to fracture classification, different damage to skin and tissue and time interval after injury. Thorough debridement, proper use of anti-infective medication, appropriate bone grafting, and postoperative ankle function exercise can reduce the occurrence of complications.

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