Worldwide, road injuries cause over 1.3 million deaths and many more disabilities annually, disproportionately affecting the young and the poor. Approximately one in ten road injuries involves a femoral shaft fracture that is most effectively treated with surgery. Current femoral shaft fracture incidence according to country and age group is unknown and difficult to measure directly but is critical to designing and evaluating interventions.
We modeled femoral shaft fracture incidence from road traffic collisions with use of World Bank, World Health Organization, and Global Burden of Disease Study data for 176 countries and five age groups. We used road traffic death rates, ratios of road traffic deaths to injuries, and proportions of road traffic injuries that were femoral shaft fractures to calculate the fracture incidence.
The worldwide annual femoral shaft fracture incidence from road traffic collisions was between 1.0 and 2.9 million. Incidence rates were significantly higher in low and middle income countries compared with high income countries. Overall, low and middle income countries had a mean femoral shaft fracture incidence between 15.7 and 45.5 per 100,000 people per year, with a rate ratio of 2.08 (95% confidence interval, 2.02 to 2.13; p < 0.001) relative to high income countries.
Our results demonstrate a substantial worldwide burden and disparities in femoral shaft fracture incidence between low to middle income and high income countries, and the young are disproportionately affected, underscoring the potential impact of improved access to treatment. We believe that the methodology of this study can be applied to estimate the burden of other diseases, allowing for better direction of global health efforts.