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Predicting Failure of Femoral Neck Fixation

Femoral Neck Fracture for OBuzzOrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Matthew Herring, MD, in response to a recent study in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma.

With many problems in orthopaedics, the best management options are still being debated. The treatment of femoral neck fractures is one such problem. Surgeons have several available options: cancellous screws (CS), a sliding hip screw (SHS), hemiarthroplasty, and total hip arthroplasty. The recently completed Fixation using Alternative Implants for the Treatment of Hip fractures (FAITH) randomized trial sought to offer insight on those treatment modalities.1 The study enrolled 1,079 patients with low-energy femoral neck fractures and randomized them into treatment with CS or SHS.

In a follow-up study published in the May 2018 edition of the Journal of Orthopedic Trauma, Sprague et al. analyzed FAITH data to identify predictors of revision surgery during 24 months after surgical fixation of a femoral neck fracture.2 Based on previously published studies, the authors identified 15 factors a priori that may be associated with revision surgery . Among the more than 800 patients in the FAITH cohort who had complete follow-up data, 191 (23%) underwent revision surgery and were included in the analysis. Proportional hazard modeling identified 5 factors associated with revision surgery: female sex (hazard ratio [HR], 1.79), body mass index (HR, 1.19—a 19% increased risk of revision for every 5-point increase in BMI), displaced fracture (HR, 2.16), Pauwels type III configuration (HR, 2.13 relative to type II), and poor implant positioning (HR, 2.70). In addition, prefracture dependence on assistive devices for ambulation was significantly associated with a risk of conversion to arthroplasty (p = 0.04), although a hazard ratio was not reported.

These important findings may help guide our decision making for the treatment of femoral neck fractures. First, male patients may be better candidates for surgical fixation of neck fractures than female patients, which probably relates to sex differences in bone density. Thinner patients also may be better candidates for femoral neck fixation, while arthroplasty may be the more reliable option for high-BMI patients.

Second, we have to pick the right fractures to fix. As is well described elsewhere in the literature, a more vertical fracture line (>50°) is more likely to fail with fixation. Additionally, patients with displaced fractures face a significantly higher risk of revision surgery and may be poor candidates for fixation.

Arguably, the most important modifiable risk factor for revision surgery is surgical technique. Unfortunately (and fortunately), in the FAITH study there were too few malreductions to investigate this variable in detail. However, poor implant positioning—defined as prominent screws at the lateral cortex, screw penetration, and lag screws positioned too high—was strongly associated with an increased risk of revision surgery.

It goes without saying, but well-placed implants perform better.

Matthew Herring, MD is a senior orthopaedic resident at the University of Minnesota and a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board.

References

  1. Fixation using Alternative Implants for the Treatment of Hip fractures (FAITH) Investigators. Fracture fixation in the operative management of hip fractures (FAITH): an international, multicentre, randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2017;389(10078):1519-1527.
  2. Sprague S, Schemitsch EH, Swiontkowski M, et al. Factors Associated With Revision Surgery After Internal Fixation of Hip Fractures. J Orthop Trauma. 2018;32(5):223-230.

Fragility Fracture Workshop & Symposium—June 28 & 29, 2018

ownbone_logo-rOn Thursday evening, June 28 and all day Friday, June 29 in Boston, The American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) and the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON) will present two educational/networking events concentrating on secondary fragility fracture prevention.

The Thursday evening Workshop, available only to those attending the Friday Symposium, will convene clinicians with expertise in counseling and treating fragility fracture patients. “This new two-hour workshop provides an additional opportunity to learn more about identifying, assessing, counseling, and treating fragility fracture patients,” said program co-chair Debra Sietsema, PhD, RN. “The Workshop also includes special breakout stations on calcium, FRAX, and the AOA’s ‘Own the Bone’ initiative.”

The all-day Symposium on Friday focuses on how to establish a multidisciplinary secondary fragility fracture program. In addition, the Symposium will include relevant case studies demonstrating how to translate the principles into hospital, private-practice, or clinic settings. “This Symposium is a great opportunity for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals to get the full picture in one day,” said Dr. Sietsema. “Attendees will gain both basic and expanded knowledge to put their programs in place.”

Register by May 15 to receive early-bird pricing for these important events. NAON members and clinicians from enrolled Own the Bone institutions save an additional $50.

A Video Approach to Improving Outcomes in Digit Replantation

Anastomosis Refill for OBuzzArterial and venous reperfusion problems are common causes of failure in digit replantation, so excellent vascular anastomotic technique is crucial during these operations. One way to assess the patency of vascular anastomoses intraoperatively is to estimate refilling velocity with the naked eye. An even better way is described by Zhu et al. in the May 2, 2018 edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

The authors divided their study into two phases. During phase I, they found that a slower refilling velocity ratio (RVR) in 103 replanted digits, calculated with the aid of videos recorded at 1,000 frames per second, was associated with replantation failure. In phase II, the authors applied RVR goals established from phase I to another 79 replanted digits to determine whether the additional objective guidance increased the replantation survival rate compared with historical controls.

Based on phase I results, Zhu et al. set the arterial RVR goal to 0.4 and the venous RVR sum goal to 1.0. Using those goals for guidance, the authors found that the phase II success rate (96%) was significantly higher than that among historical controls (87%). In several phase I cases, intraoperative observations of specialists considered anastomoses to be acceptable, but the high-speed video data revealed that improvements were required.

One downside to obtaining this objective video data about anastomotic quality is that it adds 10 to 15 minutes to operative time. Consequently, the authors cite the need for a “well-designed, randomized, double-blinded clinical trial…to provide stronger evidence of this assessment technique.”

Scottish Hip Fracture Treatment Guidelines Improve Outcomes

Hip Fracture for OBuzzIt is easy, perhaps even fun (in a cynical way), to discredit clinical guidelines and suggested care pathways for certain orthopaedic diseases. They are often nuanced, may require a significant change to our practice that we find impractical, and may seem to offer little benefit over current practices. Why change when our patients do just fine with how we have always treated them? Well, as Farrow et al. clearly demonstrate in the May 2, 2018 edition of JBJS, we should follow these guidelines and patient care pathways in hip fracture patients ≥50 years old because patients have better outcomes when we do.

The authors found that increased adherence to the Scottish Standards of Care for Hip Fracture Patients (SSCHFP), implemented in Scotland in 2014,  led to a >3-fold decrease in patient mortality at 1 month and a 2-fold decrease in mortality at 4 months. High levels of adherence to the SSCHFP also led to shorter hospital stays and decreased odds of discharging patients to high-care settings, such as a skilled nursing facility. This cohort study of data collected from  >1,000 patients saw only 8% of the initial population lost to follow-up.

Just as importantly, when the authors ran a multiple regression analysis, they found that no single SSCHFP practice or patient variable was as important as following the total SSCHFP protocol. The authors thus conclude that “the impact of the standards as a whole is greater than the sum of the parts and highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary team approach…” In other words, following the protocol helped improve patient outcomes. Period.

Studies like this by Farrow et al. are important and impactful. Practice guidelines and care criteria are developed with careful attention to the evidence base, but we are just starting to see published data on their effect on outcomes. This makes them difficult to accept because we DO have data (at least anecdotal data) supporting our current practices. It is easier to stick to our known current methods than to adopt new ones, however subtle, that require change and have little accompanying outcomes data.  Implementing practice guidelines will always be challenging, but having data such as these showing the power of their effect should help make adoption easier.

Chad A. Krueger, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media

Click here to read a press release about this study from the University of Aberdeen.

JBJS 100: Shoulder Impingement and Distraction Osteogenesis

JBJS 100Under one name or another, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has published quality orthopaedic content spanning three centuries. In 1919, our publication was called the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the first volume of that journal was Volume 1 of what we know today as JBJS.

Thus, the 24 issues we turn out in 2018 will constitute our 100th volume. To help celebrate this milestone, throughout the year we will be spotlighting 100 of the most influential JBJS articles on OrthoBuzz, making the original content openly accessible for a limited time.

Unlike the scientific rigor of Journal content, the selection of this list was not entirely scientific. About half we picked from “JBJS Classics,” which were chosen previously by current and past JBJS Editors-in-Chief and Deputy Editors. We also selected JBJS articles that have been cited more than 1,000 times in other publications, according to Google Scholar search results. Finally, we considered “activity” on the Web of Science and The Journal’s websites.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from reading these groundbreaking articles from JBJS, as we mark our 100th volume. Here are two more:

Anterior Acromioplasty for Chronic Impingement Syndrome in the Shoulder
C S Neer: JBJS, 1972 January; 54 (1): 41
For many years after its publication, this 1972 JBJS article changed the treatment approach for patients with shoulder disability. But more recently, arthroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging arthrography have identified other painful non-impingement shoulder conditions. Consequently, the liberal use of acromioplasty to treat “impingement” is being replaced by a trend toward making an anatomic diagnosis, such as a partial or complete rotator cuff tear, and performing aggressive rehabilitation prior to corrective surgery.

Use of the Ilizarov Technique for Treatment of Non-union of the Tibia Associated with Infection
G K Dendrinos, S Kontos, E Lyritsis: JBJS, 1995 June; 77 (6): 835
This case series described a technique of bone transport with bridging achieved by distraction osteogenesis. The defects averaged 6 cm, the mean duration of treatment was 10 months, and the mean time to union was 6 months. More recent research has focused on augmenting the osteogenic potential of tissues in the distraction gap with substances such as bone morphogenetic protein, platelet-rich plasma, and mesenchymal stem cells.

Association Between Distal Radial Fracture Malunion and Patient-Reported Activity Limitations

The long-term effect of distal radial fracture malunion on activity limitations is unknown. https://bit.ly/2qYgOMh #JBJS

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May 24 Webinar – Proximal Humerus Fractures: Improving Outcomes Amid Uncertainty

screen grab of speakers

The incidence of proximal humerus fractures is increasing with the aging of the population worldwide and the associated rise in prevalence of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Anecdotally, the incidence of high-energy proximal humerus fractures in the nonelderly also seems to be on the rise. In cases of complex, comminuted fractures, interest in surgical management has increased due to favorable reported outcomes with locking-plate fixation and reverse shoulder arthroplasty.

Still, many questions remain about how best to manage these fractures in individual patients and by surgeons with varying levels of experience. Beyond the dilemma of operative versus nonoperative management lie many decisions about technical details if surgical treatment is selected.

On Thursday, May 24, 2018 at 8:00 pm EDT, the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery (JSES) and The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (JBJS) will host a complimentary one-hour webinar—co-moderated by JSES Editor-in-Chief Bill Mallon, MD and JBJS Deputy Editor Andy Green, MD—that will address some of these questions.

JSES co-author Mark Frankle, MD will discuss findings from a recently published decision analysis that found experienced shoulder surgeons agreeing on optimal treatment for these fractures only 64% of the time. Patients may have poorer range-of-motion outcomes in scenarios where uncertainty exists.

Brent Ponce, MD, co-author of a cadaveric study published in JBJS, explains how his research team concluded that medial comminution is a predictor of poor stability in proximal humerus fractures treated with locking plates, but that stability may be improved in such cases (and in non-comminuted fractures) when fixation includes the calcar.

After each author’s presentation, an additional shoulder-fracture expert will add clinical perspective to these important findings. Xavier Duralde, MD will shed additional light on Dr. Frankle’s paper, and Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, MD will comment on Dr. Ponce’s paper. During the last 15 minutes of the webinar, a live Q&A session will provide the audience with the opportunity to question the panelists about the concepts and data presented.

Seats are limited, so Register Now.

More Progress in Preventing Secondary Fragility Fractures

ownbone_logo-rHow well do fracture liaison services (FLSs) work in terms of patients who’ve had a fragility fracture receiving a recommendation for anti-osteoporosis treatment? Very well, according to findings from an analysis of more than 32,000 patients by Dirschl and Rustom in the April 18, 2018 edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

A fracture liaison service is a coordinated, multidisciplinary model of care designed to reduce the risk of future fractures among patients who’ve sustained a primary fragility fracture. (Click here for another recent JBJS article about the FLS model.) The American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) has been a major proponent of the FLS model, and it is a cornerstone of the AOA’s “Own the Bone” national quality-improvement program.

Dirschl and Rustom found that between 2009 and 2016, at 147 sites participating in an FLS through Own the Bone, 72.8% of 32,671 patients initially evaluated for a fragility fracture received a recommendation for anti-osteoporosis treatment. That’s a vast improvement compared with previous reports that indicate only 20% of patients with a fragility fracture received either an osteoporosis evaluation or treatment. In this current study, a sedentary lifestyle and having a parent who had sustained a hip fracture were the patient factors associated with those most likely to receive a recommendation for treatment.

OrthoBuzz editors were surprised to read that anti-osteoporosis treatment was initiated in only 12.1% of the patients in this study. When we asked JBJS Editor-in-Chief Marc Swiontkowski, MD for a further explanation, he noted that the study captured data only from the initial post-fracture encounter between patients and FLS clinicians. The percentage of patients initiating treatment would have been much higher, he said, if the data had included those who followed up their initial FLS evaluation with a primary care physician. He also remarked that some people are dissuaded from taking an FDA-approved prescription anti-osteoporosis medication by the disproportionate focus on side effects that patients read in social media and the lay press. And there are some patients for whom prescription anti-osteoporosis drugs are truly contraindicated.

But with an estimated 2 million people in the US sustaining a fragility fracture each year, these results indicate substantial progress in practices that will prevent secondary fractures.

Click here for a listing of upcoming Own the Bone events.

Keeping a Clinical Eye on Downstream Costs

Radial Head Fx for OBuzzMedical economics has progressed to the point where musculoskeletal physicians and surgeons cannot ignore the financial implications of their decisions. Unfortunately, in most practice locations it is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain the downstream costs to patients and insurers of our postsurgical orders for imaging, laboratory testing, and physical therapy (PT). In the April 18, 2018 issue of The Journal, Egol et al. present results from a well-designed and adequately powered randomized trial of outcomes after patients with minimally or nondisplaced radial head or neck fractures were referred either to outpatient PT or to a home exercise program focused on elbow motion.

At all follow-up time points (from 6 weeks to an average of 16.6 months), the authors found that patients receiving formal PT had DASH scores and time to clinical healing that were no better than the outcomes of those following the home exercise program. In fact, the study showed that after 6 weeks, patients following the home exercise program had a quicker improvement in DASH scores than those in the PT group.

The minor limitations with this study design (such as the potential for clinicians measuring elbow motion becoming aware of the treatment arm to which the patient was assigned) should not prevent us from implementing these findings immediately into practice. Each patient going to physical therapy in this scenario would have cost the healthcare system an estimated $800 to $2,400.

I wonder how many other pre- and postsurgical decisions that we routinely make would change if we had similar investigations into the value of ordering postoperative hemoglobin levels, surgical treatment of minimally displaced distal fibular fractures, routine postoperative radiographs for uncomplicated hand and wrist fractures, and PT after routine carpal tunnel release. These are just some of the reflexive decisions we make on a daily basis that probably have little to no value when it comes to patient outcomes. Whenever possible, we need to think about the downstream costs of such decisions and support the appropriate scientific evaluation of these commonly accepted, but possibly misguided, practices.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

During First Post-Op Month, Periprosthetic Fractures Are as Lethal as Native Hip Fractures

periprosthetic hip fxIn 1922, Kellogg Speed, MD said in his American College of Surgeons address, “We enter the world under the brim of the pelvis and exit through the neck of the femur.” Since then, it has been repeatedly shown that femoral-neck and intertrochanteric hip fractures are associated with a high mortality rate during the first year following fracture. Now, in the era of widespread hip arthroplasty—and with the consequently increasing rates of periprosthetic fractures near the hip joint—it is relevant to ask whether periprosthetic fractures are associated with an increased risk of mortality similar to that seen after native hip fractures. In the April 4, 2018 issue of The Journal, Boylan et al. use the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System database to address that question.

The authors reviewed 8 years of native and periprosthetic hip fracture data to determine whether the 1-month, 6-month, and 12-month mortality risk between the two patient cohorts was similar. They found that the 1-month mortality risk in the two groups was similar (3.2% for periprosthetic fractures and 4.6% for native fractures). However, there were significant between-group differences in mortality risk at the 6-month (3.8% for periprosthetic vs 6.5% for native) and 12-month (9.7% vs 15.9%) time points.

This makes clinical sense because, in general, patients experiencing a native hip fracture have lower activity levels and general fitness and higher levels of comorbidity than patients who have received a total hip arthroplasty. Extensive research has resulted in protocols for lowering the risk of mortality associated with native hip fractures, such as surgery within 24 to 48 hours, optimizing medical management through geriatric consultation, and safer and more effective rehabilitation strategies. We need similar research to develop effective perioperative protocols for patients experiencing a periprosthetic fracture, as this study showed that 1 out of 10 of these patients does not survive the first year after sustaining such an injury. I also agree with the authors’ call for more research to identify patients with periprosthetic fractures who are “at risk of worse outcomes at the time of initial presentation to the hospital.”

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief