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Pin Tract Infection With Contemporary External Fixation: How Much of a Problem?

Parameswaran, A. Dushi; Roberts, Craig S.; Seligson, David; Voor, Michael

Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma: August 2003 - Volume 17 - Issue 7 - p 503-507
Original Articles

Objective To determine the incidence of pin tract infection.

Design Retrospective chart review.

Setting Level 1 trauma center in an urban community.

Patients A total of 285 patients with 285 fractures over a 4-year period (1997–2001).

Intervention External fixation.

Main Outcome Measurement Incidence of pin tract infection.

Results Of 285 fractures, 32 (11.2%) were complicated by infection. The incidence of infection according to montage was 3.9% (3/77) for ring fixators, which was significantly different (P < 0.04) from the 12.9% incidence (23/178) for unilateral fixators and the 20.0% incidence (6/30) for hybrid fixators (P = 0.004). The incidences of pin tract infection for the unilateral fixator group and the hybrid fixator group were not significantly different.

Conclusions Patients with hybrid external fixators had a similar risk of pin tract infection as patients who had unilateral fixators. The infection rate in the ring fixator group was significantly lower than the hybrid external and unilateral fixator groups.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Accepted March 23, 2003.

The authors have received nothing of value related to the work on this project.

The devices that are subject of this article are FDA approved.

Corresponding author: Craig S. Roberts, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Louisville, 210 E. Gray Street, Suite 1003, Louisville, KY 40202. E-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.