Prevalence of complications of open tibial shaft fractures stratified as per the Gustilo-Anderson classification

Costas Papakostidis, Nikolaos K. Kanakaris, Juan Pretel, Omar Faour, Daniel Juan Morell, Peter V. Giannoudis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


The aim of the present study was to comparatively analyse certain outcome measures of open tibial fractures, stratified per grade of open injury and method of treatment. For this purpose, a systematic review of the English literature from 1990 until 2010 was undertaken, comprising 32 eligible articles reporting on 3060 open tibial fractures. Outcome measures included rates of union progress (early union, delayed union, late union and non-union rates) and certain complication rates (deep infection, compartment syndrome and amputation rates). Statistical heterogeneity across component studies was detected with the use of Cochran chi-square and I 2 tests. In the absence of significant statistical heterogeneity a pooled estimate of effect size for each outcome/complication of interest was produced. All component studies were assigned on average a moderate quality score. Reamed tibial nails (RTNs) were associated with significantly higher odds of early union compared with unreamed tibial nails (UTNs) in IIIB open fractures (odds ratio: 12, 95% CI: 2.4-61). Comparing RTN and UTN modes of treatment, no significant differences were documented per grade of open fractures with respect to both delayed and late union rates. Surprisingly, nonunion rates in IIIB open fractures treated with either RTNs or UTNs were lower than IIIA or II open fractures, although the differences were not statistically significant. Significantly increased deep infection rates of IIIB open fractures compared with all other grades were documented for both modes of treatment (RTN, UTN). However, lower deep infection rates for IIIA open fractures treated with RTNs were recorded compared with grades I and II. Interestingly, grade II open tibial fractures, treated with UTN, presented significantly greater odds for developing compartment syndrome than when treated with RTNs. Our cumulative analysis, providing for each grade of open injury and each particular method of treatment a summarised estimate of effect size for the most important outcome measures of open tibial fractures, constitutes a useful tool of the practicing surgeon for optimal decision making when operative treatment of such fractures is contemplated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1408-1415
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical outcome
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Gustilo-Anderson classification
  • Infection
  • Nonunion
  • Open fracture
  • Review
  • Tibia
  • Union

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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