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

William P Toole, Mark Elliott, David Hankins, Corey Rosenbaum, Anthony Harris, Christopher Perkins
Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery 2015, 54 (2): 203-6
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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