In the April 5, 2017 issue of The Journal, Noureldin et al. analyzed more than 14,000 procedures from the NSQIP database to determine the rate of unplanned 30-day readmission after outpatient surgical procedures of the hand and elbow. The 1.2% rate seems well within the range of acceptability, particularly because the more than 450 institutions contributing to this database probably serve populations who don’t have the best overall health and comorbidity profiles.
Missing causes for about one-third of the readmissions illustrate one issue with data accuracy in these large administrative datasets. While the authors acknowledged a “lack of granularity” as the greatest limitation in analyzing large databases, they added that the readmissions with no listed cause “were likely unrelated to the principal procedure.”
It was not surprising that infection was the most common cause for readmission. However, it would have been nice to know the rate of confirmed infection via positive cultures, as I suspect many of these patients were readmitted for erythema, swelling, warmth, and discomfort associated with postoperative hematoma rather than infection.
Regardless of the need for higher-quality data on complications following outpatient orthopaedic surgical procedures, this analysis gives us more confidence that the move toward outpatient surgical care in our specialty is warranted. I think most patients would rather sleep in their own home as long as preoperative comorbidities and ASA levels are considered and adequate postoperative pain control can be achieved in an outpatient setting. The trend toward outpatient orthopaedic treatment is likely to continue as we gather higher-quality data and better understand the risk-benefit profile.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
Here’s one thing about which medical studies have been nearly unanimous: Smoking is a health hazard by any measure. In the February 15, 2017 edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Tischler et al. put some hard numbers on the risk of smoking for those undergoing total joint arthroplasty (TJA).
After controlling for confounding factors, the authors of the Level III prognostic study found that:
- Current smokers have a significantly increased risk of reoperation for infection within 90 days of TJA compared with nonsmokers.
- The amount one has smoked, regardless of current smoking status, significantly contributed to increased risk of unplanned nonoperative readmission.
In a commentary on the Tischler et al. study, William, G. Hamilton, MD says, “…as physicians, we should work cooperatively with our patients to enhance outcomes by attempting to reduce these modifiable risk factors. We can educate patients and can suggest smoking cessation programs and weight loss regimens that may not only improve the risk profile during the surgical episode, but also improve the patients’ overall health.”
Propionibacterium acnes is a frequently isolated pathogen in postoperative shoulder infections, but where exactly does it come from? According to a study by Falconer et al. in the October 19, 2016 Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, P. acnes derives from the subdermal edges of the surgical incision and spreads through contact with the surgeon’s gloves and surgical instruments.
The authors obtained specimens for microbiological analysis at five different sites from 40 patients undergoing primary shoulder arthroplasty. Thirty-three percent of the patients had at least one culture specimen positive for P. acnes, and the most common site of P. acnes growth was the subdermal layer, followed by forceps.
The authors observed no clinical postoperative infections during the follow-up of 6 to 18 months, although that is a relatively short investigation period for a pathogen that often causes late-onset indolent infections. The authors conclude that “it is likely that surgeon handling of the skin and subdermal layer contaminates the rest of the surgical field.” Although the study did not investigate preventive techniques, based on the findings the authors suggest the following possible prophylactic approaches:
- Minimizing handling of the subdermal layer
- Changing gloves after the dermis is cut
- Avoiding contact between implants and the subdermal layer
- Repeating use of antibacterial agents once the wound is opened
Injuries to the musculoskeletal system are among the most common wounds of war. Compared with extremity injuries in the civilian population, injuries sustained in combat tend to be due to high-energy explosions and are associated with a greater degree of contamination and a longer timeline for recovery and healing. Importantly, the sequelae of musculoskeletal injuries sustained during combat tend to lead to more long-term disability than those affecting other organ systems.
In this month’s Editor’s Choice article, Rivera et al. review the current literature on combat injuries of the lower extremity and suggest that explosions are the most common mechanism of injury encountered by deployed service members. While exposure to an explosion does not necessarily result in a specific limb injury, the explosion mechanism does contribute to more severe injuries. Moreover, among service members who sustain open fractures of the tibia, foot, and ankle, infection is a common complication and is associated with more severe soft-tissue injury. As a result, surgeons who are deployed in combat settings are now performing more fasciotomies for limbs that are at risk. However, the outcomes and complication rates associated with these procedures are not well established, and the causes of late amputations are not always clear.
As part of a comprehensive review of this topic, Rivera et al. pose 3 important clinical questions that are ideal for translational research investigation. First, they ask, “What is the best way to manage and transport patients who have severe open fractures in order to minimize infection?” Indeed, while negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT) appears to be a promising wound-care technique, additional study is needed in order to know how to best augment the standard of care for battlefield medicine. Second, “What is the best way to treat fasciotomy wounds and the late sequelae of the compartment syndrome?” In order to answer this question, a broader understanding of compartment syndrome detection and the indications for surgical treatment are needed. Finally, “What is the best way to select limbs for salvage and to optimize the reconstruction of injured tissues?” This question must explore not only the patient’s perspective but also the multitude of causes that lead to late amputation.
Thomas A. Einhorn, MD
Editor, JBJS Reviews
About one-third of lower-limb amputees have problems with the socket connecting their residuum to a prosthetic limb. This has led to the development of osseointegrated implants, which consist of a press-fit intramedullary implant that protrudes through the skin to accommodate an abutment to which the prosthetic limb is rigidly attached.
Concerns about ascending infection and related complications with such constructs led Al Muderis et al. to conduct a multicenter prospective cohort study on the safety of osseointegrated implants, published in the June 1, 2016 JBJS. The authors found that mild infection and irritation of soft tissue were common, but that “these complications can be managed with simple measures,” such as outpatient antibiotic treatment.
Specifically, among the 86 patients with a transfemoral amputation and an implant who were followed for a median of 34 months:
- 31 had no complications
- 29 had one or more infections (all grade 1 or 2, four of which required surgical debridement)
- 26 had non-infectious complications (including hypergranulation of the stoma, soft-tissue redundancy, traumatic intertrochanteric fracture, and intramedullary implant breakage)
Smoking and female sex were associated with recurrent and more severe infections, prompting the authors to suggest that those patient characteristics could be “useful criteria for patient counseling and selection.”
In their commentary on the study, Paul Dougherty, MD and Douglas Smith, MD encourage continued research into bactericidal or mechanical barriers to microbial colonization in areas where the implant enters the body. Although no formal cost studies have been done on osseointegrated implants, the commentators reckon that such costs “are likely greater than those for conventional prosthetic management.”
Musculoskeletal (MSK) infections are highly prevalent and potentially serious, and orthopaedists are frequently faced with preventing and treating them. Wherever or however they are acquired, these pathogen-based conditions are among the most challenging to address effectively.
On Monday, May 23, 2016 at 8:00 pm EDT, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery will present a complimentary webinar that includes findings from two recent JBJS studies that explore how best to prevent deep infections in lower-grade open fractures, and the most effective antibiotics for treating community-acquired hand infections.
Richard Jenkinson, MD will discuss findings from a cohort study that compared deep infection rates in patients with lower-grade open fractures who were treated with either immediate wound closure or delayed wound closure. Rick Tosti, MD will examine resistance patterns of specific antibiotics to MRSA infections of the hand in an urban population.
Moderated by musculoskeletal-infection expert Jonathan Schoenecker, MD, PhD, the webinar will also feature commentaries on the studies by Lawrence Marsh, MD and Isaac Thomsen, MD.
Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Here is a summary of selected findings cited in the February 17, 2016 Specialty Update on pediatric orthopaedics:
Guidelines and AUCs
–The AAOS updated its clinical practice guidelines on the treatment of pediatric diaphyseal femoral fractures1 and adopted appropriate use criteria (AUC) for pediatric supracondylar humeral fractures with vascular injury.2
–A matched case control study of surgical spinal procedures found that neuromuscular scoliosis, weight for age ≥95th percentile, ASA score of ≥3, and prolonged operative time were associated with a higher risk of surgical site infection.3
–Several groups, including the Scoliosis Research Society and POSNA, endorsed the definition of early-onset scoliosis as “scoliosis with onset less than the age of ten years, regardless of etiology.”4, 5
–A prospective randomized study found that preoperative education and orientation for scoliosis surgery paradoxically increased immediate postoperative anxiety among patients and caregivers, relative to controls who received standard perioperative information.6
–A randomized trial investigating perioperative blood loss and transfusion rates in patients undergoing posterior spinal arthrodesis for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis found that tranexamic acid and epsilon-aminocaproic acid reduced operative blood loss but not transfusion rates when compared with placebo.
–A study of 30 patients with severe stable slipped capital femoral epiphysis found that good or excellent results were achieved over 2.5 years in a higher proportion of those receiving a modified Dunn realignment compared with those treated with in situ fixation. The reoperation rate was greater in the in situ fixation cohort.7
–A prospective study analyzing complications after periacetabular osteotomy for acetabular dysplasia using the modified Clavien-Dindo grading scheme found grade III or IV complications in 5.9% of 205 patients, with a nonsignificant trend associating complications with male sex and obesity.
–A registry-based study found that, compared with matched controls, patients with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease had an elevated hazard ratio of 1.5 for ADHD, 1.3 for depression, and 1.2 for mortality. It remains unclear whether patients with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease would benefit from routine psychiatric screening.8
–A case control study of 822 injured athletes and 368 uninjured athletes found that overuse injuries represented 67.4% of all injuries. The risk of serious overuse injury was two times greater if the weekly hours of sports participation were greater than the athlete’s age in years.9
–A meta-analysis of initial nonoperative treatment compared with operative treatment of ACL tears in children and adolescents noted instability and pathologic laxity in 75% of patients with nonoperative treatment compared with 14% of patients following reconstruction.10
–A review of more than 4,400 supracondylar humeral fractures with isolated anterior interossesous nerve palsies but without sensory nerve injury or dysvasculartity found that postponing treatment for up to 24 hours did not delay neurologic recovery.
–A randomized controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of analgesics during intraossesous pin removal found that acetaminophen and ibuprofen were clinically equivalent to placebo in terms of pain reduction and heart rate.
Foot and Ankle
–A study exploring risk factors for failure of allograft bone after calcaneal lengthening osteotomy found a lower risk of failure with tricortical iliac crest allograft relative to patellar allograft. The risk of radiographic graft failure increased with patient age.11
–A prospective nonrandomized study of symptomatic planovalgus feet comparing subtalar arthroereisis with lateral column lengthening found similar postoperative improvements and complication rates in both groups after one year.12
Musculoskeletal Infection & Neuromuscular Conditions
–A cohort study of 869 children with osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, pyomyositis, or abscess concluded that routinely culturing for anaerobic, fungal, and acid-fast bacterial organisms is not recommended except in patients with a history of penetrating injury, immunocompromise, or failure of primary treatment.
–A prospective study comparing tendon transfers, botulinum toxin injections, and ongoing therapy in children with upper-extremity cerebral palsy found that tendon transfer demonstrated greater improvements than the alternatives in joint positioning during functional tasks and grip and pinch strength.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.Guideline on the treatment of pediatric diaphyseal femur fractures. 2015.http://www.aaos.org/Research/guidelines/PDFFguideline.asp.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.Appropriate use criteria: pediatric supracondylar humerus fractures with vascular injury. 2015.http://www.aaos.org/research/Appropriate_Use/pshfaucvascular.asp.
- Croft LD, Pottinger JM, Chiang HY, Ziebold CS, Weinstein SL, Herwaldt LA. Risk factors for surgical site infections after pediatric spine operations. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2015 Jan 15;40(2):E112-9
- El-Hawary R, Akbarnia BA. Early onset scoliosis – time for consensus. Spine Deformity. 2015 Mar;3(2):105-6
- Skaggs DL, Guillaume T, El-Hawary R, Emans J, Mendelow M, Smith J. Early onset scoliosis consensus statement, SRS Growing Spine Committee, 2015. Spine Deformity. 2015;3(2):107.
- Rhodes L, Nash C, Moisan A, Scott DC, Barkoh K, Warner WC Jr, Sawyer JR, Kelly DM.Does preoperative orientation and education alleviate anxiety in posterior spinal fusion patients? A prospective, randomized study. J Pediatr Orthop. 2015 Apr-May;35(3):276-9.
- Novais EN, Hill MK, Carry PM, Heare TC, Sink EL. Modified Dunn procedure is superior to in situ pinning for short-term clinical and radiographic improvement in severe stable SCFE. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2015 Jun;473(6):2108-17. Epub 2014 Dec 12
- Hailer YD, Nilsson O. Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease and the risk of ADHD, depression, and mortality. Acta Orthop. 2014 Sep;85(5):501-5. Epub 2014 Jul 18.
- Jayanthi NA, LaBella CR, Fischer D, Pasulka J, Dugas L. Sports-specialized intensive training and the risk of injury in young athletes: a clinical case-control study. Am J Sports Med. 2015 Apr;43(4):794-801. Epub 2015 Feb 2.
- Ramski DE, Kanj WW, Franklin CC, Baldwin KD, Ganley TJ. Anterior cruciate ligament tears in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis of nonoperative versus operative treatment. Am J Sports Med. 2014 Nov;42(11):2769-76. Epub 2013 Dec 4.
- Lee IH, Chung CY, Lee KM, Kwon SS, Moon SY, Jung KJ, Chung MK, Park MS. Incidence and risk factors of allograft bone failure after calcaneal lengthening. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2015 May;473(5):1765-74. Epub 2014 Nov 14.
- Chong DY, Macwilliams BA, Hennessey TA, Teske N, Stevens PM. Prospective comparison of subtalar arthroereisis with lateral column lengthening for painful flatfeet. J Pediatr Orthop B. 2015 Jul;24(4):345-53.
OrthoBuzz regularly brings you a current commentary on a “classic” article from The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. These articles have been selected by the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editors of The Journal because of their long-standing significance to the orthopaedic community and the many citations they receive in the literature. Our OrthoBuzz commentators highlight the impact that these JBJS articles have had on the practice of orthopaedics. Please feel free to join the conversation about these classics by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button in the box to the left.
From the time of Hippocrates until after the American Civil War, open fractures and other wounds prone to sepsis were fatal injuries in approximately 50% of patients, and amputation of the affected limb was recognized as lifesaving treatment. With the adoption of antisepsis and formal surgical débridement in the late 19th century, improved stabilization techniques in the 20th century, and the introduction of antibiotics, death as an outcome was virtually eliminated, but nonunion with or without infection remained challenging complications.
In the 1960s, reports concluding that in open fracture care “prophylactic antibiotics were of questionable value” created great debate and controversy among surgeons. The pioneering 1974 JBJS study by Patzakis et al., titled “The Role of Antibiotics in the Management of Open Fractures,” addressed this controversy by asking and answering three key questions:
- Is antibiotic prophylaxis worthwhile in open fractures?
- Which organisms cause the infections?
- Which antibiotics are effective?
The study demonstrated that nearly two-thirds of wounds caused by direct injury and an even higher rate of gunshot wounds were contaminated. That finding, along with the fact that several days must elapse before a culture can be considered truly sterile, makes true “prophylaxis” in open fractures practicable only if antibiotics are applied to all patients. Patzakis et al. also stressed that antibiotic treatment is not a substitute for the critically important practice of extensive surgical debridement of all devitalized tissue. Urgent surgical irrigation and debridement remain the mainstay of infection eradication, although questions persist regarding the optimal irrigation solution, volume, and delivery pressure.
I agree with the authors of this classic article that the term “prophylaxis” is not appropriate because these wounds should presumptively be considered contaminated and treated with effective antibiotics. Wound sampling has a poor predictive value in determining subsequent infections, so a first-generation cephalosporin should be administered as soon as possible, with or without coverage for gram-negative bacteria. In addition, as Lawing et al. found in a 2015 JBJS study, local aqueous aminoglycoside administration as an adjunct to systemic antibiotics may be effective in lowering infection rates in open fractures.
This classic prospective study by Patzakis et al. in the 1970s has prompted us to ask and pursue answers to many more clinical questions regarding open-fracture infections. For example, the optimal duration of antibiotic administration has not been well defined, but they should be continued for more than 24 hours. The evidence to support either extending the duration or broadening the antibiotic protocol for Gustilo type III wounds remains inconclusive, and more investigation into this question with higher-level research methods is needed.
Konstantinos Malizos, MD, PhD
JBJS Deputy Editor
Most surgeons believe that an open fracture of an extremity is an indication for antibiotic prophylaxis. However, few are familiar with the evidence to support this practice, and the optimum duration of treatment is unknown. In the June 2015 issue of JBJS Reviews, Chang et al. report the results of a systematic review of randomized controlled trials to help shed light on this question. The investigators performed a review of different antibiotic regimens, including antibiotic prophylaxis versus no prophylaxis, longer versus shorter durations of treatment, and the use of alternative drugs.
Using systematic review and meta-analysis methodology, the investigators identified 329 potentially eligible articles, of which seventeen were found to be eligible for inclusion in the analysis. Four randomized controlled trials that involved 472 patients demonstrated significantly lower rates of infection in patients who received antibiotic prophylaxis compared with those who did not receive antibiotic prophylaxis. Three studies involving 1104 patients demonstrated no difference in the infection rate when a longer duration of antibiotic prophylaxis was compared with a shorter duration (three to five days versus one day).
However, confidence in the estimates for both of these questions was low to moderate, and individual comparisons of alternate drugs yielded only low to very low confidence. The investigators concluded that the results of randomized controlled trials performed to date provide evidence that antibiotic prophylaxis reduces infection and that treatment for as short as one day is as effective as treatment for three to five days. Although the evidence warrants only low to moderate confidence, these findings provide support for the design and execution of a large, multicenter, randomized controlled trial to address the question of how antibiotics may be best used in the treatment of open extremity fractures.
Thomas A. Einhorn, MD
Editor, JBJS Reviews
Each month during the coming year, OrthoBuzz will bring you a current commentary on a “classic” article from The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. These articles have been selected by the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editors of The Journal because of their long-standing significance to the orthopaedic community and the many citations they receive in the literature. Our OrthoBuzz commentators will highlight the impact that these JBJS articles have had on the practice of orthopaedics. Please feel free to join the conversation about these classics by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button in the box to the left.
The common knowledge applied in managing open fractures (asepsis, irrigation and debridement, immobilization, and wound protection against infection) was obtained from the surgical experience accrued during World War I. Despite the overall improvement in outcomes from applying that knowledge, the varying severity of associated soft-tissue injuries created considerable ambiguity regarding optimal treatments during the years that followed.
”Prevention of Infection in the Treatment of 1,025 Open Fractures of Long Bones” by Ramon Gustilo and John Anderson in the June 1976 edition of JBJS classified open fractures into three types of increasing severity based on wound size, level of contamination, and osseous/soft-tissue injury. In general, more severe open fractures have a worse clinical prognosis for infection, nonunion, and other complications, although actual outcomes vary depending on numerous additional clinical factors. Also, high-energy Type III open fractures are not homogeneous, and in response to that variation, in 1984 Gustilo et al. further classified Type III open fractures into A, B, and C subtypes according to the severity of soft-tissue injury, the need for vascular reconstruction, and worsening prognosis.
However, the reliability of the Gustilo classification has been questioned in recent years. Clinical researchers have observed that the assessment of surface injuries does not always reflect deeper damage and does not account for tissue viability and tissue necrosis, which tends to develop with time after high-energy injuries. Also, a 1993 study found only moderate interobserver agreement among users of the classification. The limitless variety of injury patterns, mechanisms, and severities is almost impossible to be contained in a limited number of discrete categories.
As the management of open fractures continues to evolve, the 1976 Gustilo and Anderson treatment recommendation against primary internal fracture fixation for most Type III injuries due to high infection rates no longer represents the standard of care. Stabilization, even with internal fixation, for many of these fractures promotes healing, allows early rehabilitation, restores function, and reduces the risk of infection and malunion.
While “best practices” may have changed, the Gustilo-Anderson classification still correlates well with the risk of infection in patients with comorbid medical illnesses and other complications. It remains an easy-to-use classification system that has formed the foundation for open fracture management during the last four decades, with good but imperfect prognostic and therapeutic implications. It remains widely accepted for research and training purposes, and it provides the preferred basic language for communicating about open fractures.
Konstantinos Malizos, MD, PhD
JBJS Deputy Editor