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  • Allogeneic skin substitutes applied to burns patients.

    8 December 2017

    Early re-surfacing of burn wounds remains the ideal but is limited by the availability of skin graft donor sites. Cultured grafts overcome these problems and autologous keratinocytes can be grown in culture and placed on a dermal substitute, but this results in delay and requires two operations. We developed an organotypic skin substitute, which achieves cover in one procedure, and have previously found allogeneic cell survival up to 2.5 years after grafting onto clean elective wounds (tattoo removal). Here, we report a short series using the same model applied to burns patients with less than 20% total body surface area affected. The skin substitutes consisted of allogeneic dermal fibroblasts embedded in a collagen gel overlain with allogeneic epidermal keratinocytes, and were grafted to patients with tangentially excised burns. A side-by-side comparison with meshed split-thickness autografts was performed. No grafts became infected. The allogeneic skin substitute showed little effective take at 1 week, and by 2 weeks only small islands of keratinocytes survived. These sites were subsequently covered with meshed split-thickness autograft, which took well. It is concluded that further development of this model is needed to overcome the hostile wound bed seen in burns patients.

  • Delayed amputation following trauma increases residual lower limb infection.

    12 December 2017

    INTRODUCTION: Residual limb infection following amputation is a devastating complication, resulting in delayed rehabilitation, repeat surgery, prolonged hospitalisation and poor functional outcome. The aim of this study was to identify variables predicting residual limb infection following non-salvageable lower limb trauma. METHODS: All cases of non-salvageable lower limb trauma presenting to a specialist centre over 5 years were evaluated from a prospective database and clinical and management variables correlated with the development of deep infection. RESULTS: Forty patients requiring 42 amputations were identified with a mean age of 49 years (±19.9, 1SD). Amputations were performed for 21 Gustilo IIIB injuries, 12 multi-planar degloving injuries, seven IIIC injuries and one open Schatzker 6 fracture. One limb was traumatically amputated at the scene and surgically revised. Amputation level was transtibial in 32, through-knee in one and transfemoral in nine. Median time from injury to amputation was 4 days (range 0-30 days). Amputation following only one debridement and within 5 days resulted in significantly fewer stump infections (p = 0.026 and p = 0.03, respectively, Fisher's exact test). The cumulative probability of infection-free residual limb closure declined steadily from day 5. Multivariate analyses revealed that neither the nature of the injury nor pre-injury patient morbidity independently influenced residual limb infection. CONCLUSION: Avoiding residual limb infection is critically dependent on prompt amputation of non-salvageable limbs.

  • Outcomes of anterolateral thigh free flap thinning using liposuction following lower limb trauma.

    12 December 2017

    BACKGROUND: Whilst soft tissue closure is the priority to prevent infection in open fractures of the lower limb, some patients find that bulky flaps interfere with function and dislike the appearance. We report the outcomes of delayed free anterolateral thigh flap thinning with liposuction. MATERIAL AND METHODS: 38 patients treated between 2006 and 2009 were offered flap contouring. 23 chose flap thinning and 15 did not. We measured outcomes using the SF-36v2 questionnaire and cosmetic outcome scores pre and postoperatively at a mean follow up of 12 weeks (range 10-16 weeks). RESULTS: SF-36v2 physical health (PH) scores improved from a mean of 67 preoperatively to 80 postoperatively (p = 0.01) in the thinned group, while mental health (MH) scores remained unchanged (74-72). The mean SF-36v2 scores for the non-thinned group were 77 (PH) and 86 (MH). Following liposuction the median cosmetic outcome scores out of 5 improved from 1 (not at all satisfied) to 4 (very satisfied) postoperatively (p = 0.0005), which was also higher than the non-thinned group (3) [moderately satisfied], p = 0.004). There was no difference in sex, age, BMI and region on the leg of free flap reconstruction between the non-thinned and thinned groups. CONCLUSIONS: Delayed contouring of free ALT flaps used for lower limb reconstruction results in improvements in physical health measures and cosmetic outcomes. Patients not requesting thinning are generally satisfied with their reconstruction.

  • The microbiological basis for a revised antibiotic regimen in high-energy tibial fractures: preventing deep infections by nosocomial organisms.

    12 December 2017

    BACKGROUND: Deep surgical site infections (SSI's) complicate Gustilo IIIB tibial fractures in 8-13% of cases. Antibiotic prophylaxis typically covers environmental contaminants. However, nosocomial organisms are usually implicated in deep infection. We used the microbiological profile of infected Gustilo IIIB tibial fractures to define a new, dynamic prophylactic regimen which recognises the need for prophylaxis against nosocomial organisms at the time of definitive closure. METHODS: The microbiological profiles of Gustilo IIIB tibial fractures presenting over a 2-year period from January 2006 to December 2007 were reviewed. The environmental contaminants were compared with the organisms isolated from deep SSI's and correlated with the prophylactic antibiotic regimen used. RESULTS: Fifty-two patients were included. Nine developed a deep tissue infection. The pathogens implicated included resistant Enterococci, Pseudomonas, Enterobacter and MRSA. Standard antibiotic prophylaxis provided cover for these combinations in only one of nine cases. This would have improved to eight of nine cases with the use of teicoplanin and gentamicin, given as a one-time dose during definitive soft-tissue closure. Specimens taken from wound debridement were neither sensitive nor specific for the subsequent development of deep infection and did not predict the organisms responsible. CONCLUSIONS: Following high-energy open fracture, a single prophylactic antibiotic regimen directed against environmental wound contaminants does not provide cover for the organisms responsible for deepest SSI's and may have depopulated the niche, promoting nosocomial contamination prior to definitive closure. We advocate a dynamic prophylactic strategy, tailoring a second wave of prophylaxis against nosocomial organisms at the time of definitive wound closure, and at the same time avoiding the potential complications of prolonged antibiotic use.

  • Management of severe open tibial fractures: the need for combined orthopaedic and plastic surgical treatment in specialist centres.

    12 December 2017

    Although it is widely accepted that grade IIIB open tibial fractures require combined specialised orthopaedic and plastic surgery, the majority of patients in the UK initially present to local hospitals without access to specialised trauma facilities. The aim of this study was to compare the outcome of patients presenting directly to a specialist centre (primary group) with that of patients initially managed at local centres (tertiary group). We reviewed 73 consecutive grade IIIB open tibial shaft fractures with a mean follow-up of 14 months (8 to 48). There were 26 fractures in the primary and 47 in the tertiary group. The initial skeletal fixation required revision in 22 (47%) of the tertiary patients. Although there was no statistically-significant relationship between flap timing and flap failure, all the failures (6 of 63; 9.5%) occurred in the tertiary group. The overall mean time to union of 28 weeks was not influenced by the type of skeletal fixation. Deep infection occurred in 8.5% of patients, but there were no persistently infected fractures. The infection rate was not increased in those patients debrided more than six hours after injury. The limb salvage rate was 93%. The mean limb functional score was 74% of that of the normal limb. At review, 67% of patients had returned to employment, with a further 10% considering a return after rehabilitation. The times to union, infection rates and Enneking limb reconstruction scores were not statistically different between the primary and tertiary groups. The increased complications and revision surgery encountered in the tertiary group suggest that severe open tibial fractures should be referred directly to specialist centres for simultaneous combined management by orthopaedic and plastic surgeons.

  • Management of severe open ankle injuries.

    12 December 2017

    BACKGROUND: Functional outcome after reconstruction of open ankle injuries has not been well presented in the literature. The authors present the functional results of 24 patients who sustained complex ankle injuries. METHODS: Patients were assessed using three scoring systems (a modified A/O score, the Enneking score, and the AOFAS) and subdivided into two groups: those primarily treated at Charing Cross Hospital according to strict protocols combining orthopedic and plastic surgical techniques (group P) and those secondarily treated who were transferred to Charing Cross Hospital after initial management at a remote unit (group S). RESULTS: There were nine patients (37.5 percent) in group P and 15 (62.5 percent) in group S. Eighteen patients (75 percent) underwent free-tissue transfer. Sixteen patients (67 percent) were assessed (group P, n = 7; group S, n = 9) for return of function using the Enneking score. Mean time to assessment was 10.5 months for group P and 11.4 months for group S. Mean Enneking percentage score was 75 for group P and 72.2 for group S. There were no significant differences (p > 0.05) between these scores. The mean time to union was 19 weeks (n = 5) for group P and 24 weeks (n = 7) for group S. The mean AOFAS Ankle-Hindfoot Scores were comparable to the Enneking scores when independent observers undertook this assessment. Most patients in both groups reported difficulty with descent of stairs. CONCLUSIONS: Although the authors were able to achieve a similar return of function for both groups, group S patients needed at least one more operation. In cases of ankle fracture where there is significant soft-tissue injury (either closed or open), representing a complex injury, the authors recommend making no attempt to internally fix the fracture and instead referring the patient to a specialist center for combined orthoplastic attention. If this is not immediately at hand, screw fixation of the medial malleolus should be undertaken after open reduction. The lateral malleolus should not be internally fixed, but should it require control, external fixation is the preferred method of skeletal stabilization.

  • Predicting the outcome of surgery for the proximal interphalangeal joint in Dupuytren's disease.

    12 December 2017

    PURPOSE: We prospectively studied the outcome of limited Dupuytren's fasciectomy, in combination with joint release if necessary, for disease involving 49 proximal interphalangeal joints (PIPJs) to identify factors that predispose to recurrent PIPJ contracture. METHODS: Thirty-seven patients were treated over a 4-year period. The flexion contracture of the PIPJ was measured before surgery, immediately after surgery, and at more than 1 year after surgery. RESULTS: A mean preoperative flexion contracture of 67 degrees +/- 22 degrees was corrected to 6 degrees +/- 10 degrees at the time of surgery and 25 degrees +/- 25 degrees at the follow-up evaluation. There was a positive correlation between the severity of the preoperative flexion contracture and recurrent deformity, with a preoperative contracture greater than 60 degrees leading to significantly worse outcome. Incomplete correction of PIPJ flexion contracture during surgery and poor postoperative compliance with therapy were also associated with worse recurrent joint contractures. The digit involved and the necessity for joint release did not significantly affect outcome. CONCLUSIONS: In the absence of recurrent Dupuytren's disease, severe preoperative deformity, incomplete correction at surgery, and noncompliance with therapy predispose patients to worse PIPJ contracture. TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic II.

  • Leg length preservation with pedicled fillet of foot flaps after traumatic amputations.

    12 December 2017

    Six patients with insufficient soft-tissue coverage after lower limb trauma were treated with pedicled fillet of foot flaps to achieve primary stump closure and to preserve leg length. The flaps used were all based on either the posterior tibial neurovascular pedicle, the anterior tibial neurovascular pedicle, or both. Five flaps survived; one patient required conversion of a through-knee to an above-knee amputation and debridement of the flap because of venous thrombosis of the pedicle. In three of the cases, a functional knee joint was preserved. The patients ranged in age from 21 to 54 years, the mean hospital stay was 55.5 days (range, 28 to 76 days), and the mean follow-up time was 14.5 months. Despite an average of 4.3 procedures from initial admission to first discharge and an average of 2.0 postamputation procedures to achieve primary stump healing, all patients have achieved independent mobility with their prosthesis. The advantages of preserving leg length and, where possible, preserving a functional knee joint compensate for repeated procedures on these patients. When planned well, a pedicled fillet of foot flap therefore achieves the aims of amputation, namely, providing primary healing of a sensate, durable, cylindrical stump that is pain-free and preserves maximal leg length. This is achieved with no donor-site morbidity and with no need for microvascular reconstruction.