Soft tissue coverage in open fractures of tibia

Jagannath B. Kamath, M. Shantaram Shetty, Thangam Verghese Joshua, Ajith Kumar, Harshvardhan, Deepak M. Naik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The treatment of Gustilo Anderson type 3B open fracture tibia is a major challenge and it needs aggressive debridement, adequate fixation, and early flap coverage of soft tissue defect. The flaps could be either nonmicrovascular which are technically less demanding or microvascular which has steep learning curve and available only in few centers. An orthopedic surgeon with basic knowledge of the local vascular anatomy required to harvest an appropriate local or regional flap will be able to manage a vast majority of open fracture tibia, leaving the very few complicated cases needing a free microvascular flap to be referred to specialized tertiary center. This logical approach to the common problem will also lessen the burden on the higher tertiary centers. We report a retrospective study of open fractures of leg treated by nonmicrovascular flaps to analyze (1) the role of nonmicrovascular flap coverage in type 3B open tibial fractures; (2) to suggest a simple algorithm of different nonmicrovascular flaps in different zones and compartment of the leg, and to (3) analyze the final outcome with regards to time taken for union and complications. Materials and Methods: One hundered and fifty one cases of Gustilo Anderson type 3B open fracture tibia which needed flap cover for soft tissue injury were included in the study. Ninety four cases were treated in acute stage by debridement; fracture fixation and early flap cover within 10 days. Thirty-eight cases were treated between 10 days to 6 weeks in subacute stage. The rest 19 cases were treated in chronic stage after 6 weeks. The soft tissue defect was treated by various nonmicrovascular flaps depending on the location of the defect. Results: All 151 cases were followed till the raw areas were covered. In seven cases secondary flaps were required when the primary flaps failed either totally or partially. Ten patients underwent amputation. Twenty-two patients were lost to followup after the wound coverage. Out of the remaining 119 patients, 76 achieved primary acceptable union and 43 patients went into delayed or nonunion. These 43 patients needed secondary reconstructive surgery for fracture union. Conclusion: open fracture of the tibia which needs flap coverage should be treated with high priority of radical early debridement, rigid fixation, and early flap coverage. A majority of these wounds can be satisfactorily covered with local or regional nonmicrovascular flaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-469
Number of pages8
JournalIndian Journal of Orthopaedics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01-07-2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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