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Paediatric open fractures presenting to a level 1 trauma centre: a 10 year epidemiological study.

PURPOSE: The epidemiology of paediatric fractures has been previously described, however there is limited data available on open fractures in this population. The purpose of this study was to investigate trends, mechanism of injury (MOI) and severity of paediatric open fractures and undertake an epidemiological study.

METHODS: All children ≤ 16.0 years presenting with open fractures were identified between 01/04/2013 and 01/04/2023. Those with craniofacial, thoracic and distal phalangeal fractures were excluded. Incidence was calculated based on those presenting within the local geographical region. Social deprivation was measured using the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).

RESULTS: There were 208 open fractures with a median age of 11.0(q1 7.4-q3 13.4) years, and 153(74.6%) were in males. The MOIs were road traffic collisions 73(35.1%), sports/play 45(21.6%), fall > 2m 29(13.9%), simple fall 25(12.0%), crush 16(7.7%), bites 8(3.8%), assault 6(2.9%), and other 6(2.9%). Nineteen children (9.1%) presented with polytrauma. Gustilo-Anderson grade for long bone fractures were I-61(29.3%), II-24(11.5%), IIIa-36(17.3%), IIIb-30(14.4%) and IIIc-7(3.4%). There were 129 children presenting within the local geographical region providing an annual incidence of 8.0/100,000. Radius and ulna were the most frequently injured 49(38.0%) followed by tibia and fibula 44(34.1%). There were 69(53.5%) children presenting from an IMD quintile 1 with open fractures.

CONCLUSION: Paediatric open fractures are commonly seen in the adolescent male and affect those who are from a more socially deprived background. These injuries account for 3.2% of fractures admitted to a MTC. Data suggests children principally sustain open fractures through two distinct injury patterns and ten-year trends suggests that there is a gradual decline in the annual incidence.

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