JOURNAL ARTICLE

Management of femoral diaphyseal infected nonunion with antibiotic beads local therapy, external skeletal fixation, and staged bone grafting

S W Ueng, F C Wei, C H Shih
Journal of Trauma 1999, 46 (1): 97-103
9932690

BACKGROUND: Fifteen patients with femoral shaft fractures complicated by infected nonunions were treated with a two-stage protocol.

METHODS: In the first stage, radical debridement was performed along with antibiotic bead chains local therapy and external skeletal fixation. In the second stage, the debrided nonunion site was repaired with bone grafting and the external skeletal fixator was used until bony union was achieved. The time between the first and second stages of treatment was 2 to 6 weeks. The debrided bone defects ranged from 0.5 to 15 cm. Autogenous iliac cancellous bone grafting was performed in 11 patients, and microvascularized osteoseptocutaneous fibular transfer was performed in 4 patients.

RESULTS: Wound healing and bone union were achieved in all 15 cases. The duration of external fixation of these patients ranged from 7 to 15 months, with an average of 9 months. Minor pin-track infection was seen in seven patients. Postoperative infection after the second-stage bone grafting occurred in three patients. These three infections were arrested by limited debridement along with 2 to 4 weeks of parenteral antibiotic therapy. In one case, stress fracture occurred at 11 months after microvascularized fibular transfer; this was managed with another 5 months of external skeletal fixation. With an aggressive physical therapy program, 10 patients achieved nearly full range of knee motion and 5 patients had relevant knee flexion deficits. The follow-up averaged 58 months (range, 40-76 months); no recurrence of osteomyelitis was observed even at 76 months.

CONCLUSION: We have found that our two-stage treatment with antibiotic beads local therapy, definitive external skeletal fixation, and staged bone grafting is an acceptable treatment protocol for the management of femoral diaphyseal infected nonunion. It results in rapid recovery from osteomyelitis and a predictable recovery from nonunion.

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