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04.11.2017 | Original Article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Strategies in Trauma and Limb Reconstruction 1/2018

Complex tibial fractures are associated with lower social classes and predict early exit from employment and worse patient-reported QOL: a prospective observational study of 46 complex tibial fractures treated with a ring fixator

Strategies in Trauma and Limb Reconstruction > Ausgabe 1/2018
Rasmus Elsoe, Peter Larsen, Juozas Petruskevicius, Søren Kold


The long-term outcomes following complex fractures of the tibia are reported to carry a risk of knee pain, malalignment, articular injury and post-traumatic osteoarthritis. The main objective of this study was to account for the patient-reported quality of life (QOL) 12 months after ring fixator removal in patients with a complex tibial fracture. Secondary objectives included a review of the socio-economic characteristics of the patient group and the rate of return to work in the study period. A prospective follow-up study was conducted of 60 patients with complex fractures of the tibia treated with ring external fixation. Patient-reported outcomes, radiological outcomes and socio-economic status including employment status of the patients were obtained 12 months after frame removal. Forty-six patients completed the assessment 12 months after frame removal (77%). The mean age of the patient at the time of fracture was 54.6 years (range 31–86). There were 19 males and 27 females. At 12 months after frame removal, the mean EQ5D-5L index was 0.66 (CI 0.60–0.72). The mean EQ5D-5L VAS was 69 (CI 61–76). When this was compared to the established reference population from Denmark, the study population showed a significantly worse EQ5D-5L index. The majority of patients (87%) were in the lower social classes suggesting a higher degree of social deprivation in the study population. Twenty-seven per cent of patients who were employed prior to injury had returned to employment at approximately 19 months following fracture. The onset of post-traumatic osteoarthritis was present in the knee joint in 29% of patients following a proximal intra-articular fracture, whereas osteoarthritis was present at the ankle joint in 35% of patients following a distal intra-articular fracture 12 months after frame removal. This study indicates that at 12 months after frame removal there are poorer patient-reported QOL as when compared to reference populations. Furthermore, this study suggests that complex tibial fractures are associated with lower social classes and that only 27% of patients in this sample, who prior to injury were employed, had returned to employment at approximately 19 months after the injury.
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