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Risk Factors for Wound Complications After Ankle Fracture Surgery
Adam G. Miller, MD1; Andrew Margules, MD1; Steven M. Raikin, MD2
1 Department of Orthopedics, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Curtis Building #801, 1015 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
2 Rothman Institute, 925 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. E-mail address: steven.raikin@rothmaninstitute.com
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Investigation performed at the Rothman Institute of Orthopedics, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Nov 21;94(22):2047-2052. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.01088
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The overall rate of complications after ankle fracture fixation varies between 5% and 40% depending on the population investigated, and wound complications have been reported to occur in 1.4% to 18.8% of patients. Large studies have focused on complications in terms of readmission, but few studies have examined risk factors for wound-related issues in the outpatient setting in a large number of patients. A review was performed to identify risk factors for wound complications tracked in the hospital and outpatient setting.


Four hundred and seventy-eight patients underwent open reduction and internal fixation of an ankle fracture between 2003 and 2010 by a single surgeon at a single institution. Demographic characteristics, time to surgery, comorbidities, and postoperative care were tracked. Wound complications were defined as those requiring dressing care and oral antibiotics or requiring further surgical treatment.


Of the 478 patients who were followed, six (1.25%) had wounds requiring surgical debridement. Fourteen patients (2.9%) required further dressing care or a course of oral antibiotics. There were significant associations between wound complications and a history of diabetes (p < 0.001), peripheral neuropathy (p = 0.003), wound-compromising medications (p = 0.011), open fractures (p = 0.05), and postoperative noncompliance (p = 0.027). There was a significant difference in age between patients with and without wound complications (p = 0.045). We did not identify a relationship between time to surgery and complications.


These results highlight the difficulty of treating medically complex and noncompliant patient populations. With careful preoperative monitoring of swelling, time to surgery does not affect wound outcome. The failure of the patient to adhere to postoperative instructions should be a concern to the treating surgeon.

Level of Evidence: 

Prognostic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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