Risk Factors for Infection after 46,113 Intramedullary Nail Operations in Low- and Middle-income Countries
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: The fields of surgery and trauma care have largely been neglected in the global health discussion. As a result the idea that surgery is not safe or cost effective in resource-limited settings has gone unchallenged. The SIGN Online Surgical Database (SOSD) is now one of the largest databases on trauma surgery in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). We wished to examine infection rates and risk factors for infection after IM nail operations in LMIC using this data. Methods: The SOSD contained 46,722 IM nail surgeries in 58 different LMIC; 46,113 IM nail operations were included for analysis. Results: The overall follow-up rate was 23.1 %. The overall infection ratewas 1.0 %, 0.7 %for humerus, 0.8 %for femur, and 1.5 % for tibia fractures. If only nails with registered follow-up (n = 10,684) were included in analyses, infection rates were 2.9 % for humerus, 3.2 % for femur, and 6.9 % for tibia fractures. Prophylactic antibiotics reduced the risk of infection by 29 %. Operations for non-union had a doubled risk of infection. Risk of infection was reduced with increasing income level of the country. Conclusions: The overall infection rates were low, and well within acceptable levels, suggesting that it is safe to do IM nailing in low-income countries. The fact that operations for non-union have twice the risk of infection compared to primary fracture surgery further supports the use of IM nailing as the primary treatment for femur fractures in LMIC.