An infected non-union is a major complication following bone fracture. While bone union can be obtained in 70% to 100% of cases, treatment of osteomyelitis is less predictable, with reported healing rates ranging from 40% to 100%. The primary aim of this study was to assess the success rate of treating infected non-unions of the tibia and femur by a team specializing in complex bone and joint infections.
Material and methods
This single-center retrospective study included all patients operated between 2002 and 2012 due to an infected non-union of the femur or tibia using standardized surgical methods. The procedure was typically done in two phases: excision of the infected site and stabilization, followed by bone reconstruction after a waiting period. Additional procedures (lavage and/or bone grafting) were performed in some cases. A minimum 6-week course of antibiotic therapy was given. The primary endpoint was successful medical and surgical treatment after a minimum 2 years’ follow-up defined as healing of the infection (no local clinical signs of infection, ESR≤20mm and CRP≤10mg/L, no mortality attributed to the infection) and radiological and clinical bone union, with the lower limb spared.
Fifty-five patients (39 men, 16 women) were included with an average age of 37±11 years. There were 40 tibial fractures and 15 femur fractures. A polymicrobial infection was present in 47% of cases. Repeat surgery was required in 56.4% of patients. At an average of 4±2 years from the first surgical procedure, the treatment was successful in 49 patients (89%): 36 tibia (90%) and 13 femur (87%). The mean time to union was 9±4 months. There were six failures: 3 amputations at 5, 6 and 16 months; 1 mechanical and infection-related failure; 2 failed union.
This study found that 89% of patients with an infected tibial or femoral non-union treated by a team specialized in complex bone and joint infections using a standardized surgical protocol had bone union and healing of the infection in an average of 9 months.
Level of evidence
IV, retrospective study.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Septic non-union, Femur and tibia, Wound infection, Reference center for bone and joint infections