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01.04.2012 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2012

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery 2/2012

Do stable multiply injured patients with bilateral femur fractures have higher complication rates? An investigation by the EPOFF study group

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery > Ausgabe 2/2012
Roman Pfeifer, Dieter Rixen, Elisabeth Ellingsen Husebye, Dustin Pardini, Michael Müller, Clemens Dumont, Hans Georg Oestern, Peter Giannoudis, Hans-Christoph Pape, The EPOFF study group



Polytrauma patients with bilateral femur shaft fractures are known to have a higher rate of complications when compared with those who have sustained unilateral fractures. The current study tests the hypothesis that the high incidence of posttraumatic complications in patients who do not have a severe head or chest injury is caused by accompanying injuries rather than by the additional femur fracture.


Inclusion criteria New Injury Severity Score > 16 points; AIS score value of the chest ≤3 points and no severe head injury. Two study groups: a unilateral group (USF group) (n = 146) and a bilateral femur shaft fracture group (BSF group) (n = 19). Endpoints monitored were length of stay in the intensive care unit, duration on a ventilator, and several postsurgical complications (e.g., SEPSIS, acute lung injury). Statistics Fisher’s exact test for binary variables, and independent t-tests and regression analyses for continuous indicators of injury severity and clinical outcomes.


Patients with bilateral femur fractures had a significantly higher incidence of hemothorax. Moreover, they received blood transfusions more often upon admission, and exhibited a longer ICU stay (p = 0.008). However, this patient group did not exhibit a significantly higher incidence of postsurgical complications (p = 0.1) than those with unilateral fractures. After adjusting for injury severity, no difference in the length of the ICU stay was observed. Bilateral fracture patients who were in an uncertain condition preoperatively had a longer length of stay in the ICU postoperatively (p = 0.002).


In the absence of major head or chest injuries, patients with multiple injuries and bilateral femur shaft fractures have a similar complication rate to polytrauma patients with unilateral fractures. Moreover, an uncertain condition preoperatively was associated with an increased stay in the intensive care unit. The results support the idea that associated injuries rather than the additional femur fracture are responsible for complications during the clinical stay.

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