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09.05.2017 | Original Scientific Report | Ausgabe 9/2017

World Journal of Surgery 9/2017

Malunion of Long-Bone Fractures in a Conflict Zone in the Democratic Republic of Congo

World Journal of Surgery > Ausgabe 9/2017
Grace Bauhahn, Harald Veen, Rigo Hoencamp, Nelson Olim, Edward C. T. H. Tan



Malunion is a well-recognized complication of long-bone fractures which accounts for more than 25% of injuries in conflict zones. The aim of this study was to investigate the rate of malunion sustained by casualties with penetrating gunshot wounds in an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) surgical substitution project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and compare these results with current literature.


A retrospective cohort study was performed. All patients admitted to the ICRC facility between the periods of 01.10.2014 and 31.12.2015 with long-bone fractures caused by gunshot wound were included, and data were collected retrospectively from the patient’s hospital notes.


A total of 191 fractures caused by gunshot were treated in the DRC at the ICRC surgical substitution project during the study period. On average, the fractures were 3 days old on admission and were all open, with 62% also being comminuted. The ICRC management protocol, which emphasizes debridement, antibiotic prophylaxis and conservative fracture stabilization, was followed in all cases. Forty-eight percentage of the fractures were finally classified as ‘union without complication’; however, 17% were classified as ‘malunion’.


This study indicates that open long-bone fractures that are managed by the ICRC surgical substitution project in DRC may have an increased likelihood of malunion as compared to long-bone fractures treated in developed countries. Patient delay and mechanism of injury may have caused increased rates of infection which are likely behind these increased rates of malunion, alongside the lack of definitive fracture treatment options made available to the surgical team.

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