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Are low-energy open ankle fractures in the elderly the new geriatric hip fracture?

As the geriatric population in the United States continues to increase, ankle fractures in the elderly are predicted to exponentially increase in the future. As such, these injuries will become a common injury seen by physicians in various fields. Currently, no studies discussing low-energy open ankle fractures in the elderly and/or the mortality rate associated with these devastating injuries have been published. The purpose of the present study was to retrospectively review the morality rate associated with low-energy open ankle fractures in the elderly. We retrospectively identified 11 patients >60 years old who had sustained low-energy open ankle fractures and been treated at our institution. The patient demographics, mechanism of injury, wound size, medical comorbidities, treatment, follow-up data, and outcomes were recorded. Low-energy falls were defined as ground level falls from sitting or standing. The mean age of the patients was 70.72 years, with a mean body mass index of 35.93 ± 10.24. Of the 11 patients, 9 (81.81%) had ≥3 comorbidities (i.e., hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The mean size of the medially based ankle wound was 14.18 ± 4.12 cm; 10 (90.90%) were Gustilo and Anderson grade IIIA open ankle fractures. In our study, low-energy open ankle fractures in the elderly, very similar to hip fractures, were associated with a high mortality incidence (27.27%) at a mean of 2.67 ± 2.02 months, and 81.81% of our patients had ≥3 medical comorbidities.

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