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Malunions following lower extremity fractures in veterans with a spinal cord injury/disorder.

Le B, Gonzalez B, Weaver F, Sinnott B, Ray C, Chu E, Premji S, Raiford M, Mayur O, Carbone L. Malunions following lower extremity fractures in veterans with a spinal cord injury/disorder. The journal of spinal cord medicine. 2023 Mar 28; 1-7.

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BACKGROUND: Nearly 50% of all persons with a spinal cord injury/disorder (SCI/D) will sustain an osteoporotic fracture sometime in their life, with lower extremity fractures being the most common. There are a number of complications that can occur post fracture, including fracture malunion. To date, there have been no dedicated investigations of malunions among persons with SCI/D. OBJECTIVES: The primary objective of this study was to identify risk factors associated with fracture malunion among fracture-related (type of fracture, fracture location, initial fracture treatment) and SCI/D-related factors. Secondary objectives were to describe treatment of fracture malunions and complications following these malunions. METHODS: Veterans with SCI/D with an incident lower extremity fracture and subsequent malunion from Fiscal Year (FY) 2005-2015 were selected from the Veteran Health Administration (VHA) databases using International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition (ICD-9) codes for lower extremity fractures and malunion. These fracture malunion cases underwent electronic health record (EHR) review to abstract information on potential risk factors, treatments and complications for malunion. Twenty-nine cases were identified with a fracture malunion with 28 of them successfully matched with Veterans with a lower extremity fracture during FY2005-FY2014 without a malunion (matched 1:4) based on having an outpatient utilization date of care within 30 days of the fracture case. There was trend towards more nonsurgical treatment in the malunion group (? = 27, 96.43%) compared to the control group (? = 101, 90.18%) (P? = 0.05), though fracture treatment proved not to be not associated with developing a malunion in univariate logistic regression analyses (OR? = 0.30; 95% CI: 0.08-1.09). In multivariate analyses, Veterans with tetraplegia were significantly less likely (approximately 3-fold) to have a fracture malunion (OR? = 0.38; 95% CI: 0.14-0.93) compared to those with paraplegia. Fracture malunion was significantly less likely to occur for fractures of the ankle (OR? = 0.02; 95% CI: 0-0.13) or the hip (OR? = 0.15; 95% CI: 0.03-0.56) compared to femur fractures. Fracture malunions were rarely treated. The most common complications following malunions were pressure injuries (56.3%) followed by osteomyelitis (25.0%). CONCLUSIONS: Persons with tetraplegia as well as fractures of the ankle and hip (compared to the femur) were less likely to develop a fracture malunion. Attention to prevention of avoidable pressure injuries following a fracture malunion is important.

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