Treatment outcomes of distal tibia fractures among adult patients at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret, Kenya
Background: The treatment of distal tibia fractures remains challenging since they are prone to higher rates of complications. Treatment options are expanding and although their indications, advantages and disadvantages have been discussed in literature, controversy still exists over the clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of each option. This has led to different orthopaedic surgeons employing different operative treatment options based on their experience, preference and patient characteristics.
Objective: This study sought to describe the patients’ characteristics and treatment of distal tibia fractures at MTRH and compare the outcome results of the various treatment options.
Design: A prospective observational study design was used. Adult patients with distal tibia fractures admitted during the study period were included through consecutive sampling.
Methods: A total of 76 patients were followed up. Data including injury aetiology, fracture types and classification, treatment and complications were collected. Functional outcome was assessed using Olerud and Molander Ankle Score (OMAS) at 6 months after treatment. Data was collected between October 2015 and March 2017 using a structured questionnaire and analyzed using STATA version 13 at 95% confidence level. Chi square test was used to determine the significance of associations between categorical variables.
Results: The median age was 40.0 (30.0, 52.0) years, with a male-to-female ratio of 1.7:1. Most common causes of injury were RTA in 37 patients and falls in 29 patients. There were 48 closed and 28 open injuries. According to Arbeitsgemeinschaftfür Osteosynthesefragen (AO)/ Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) classification, there were 40 (52.6%) type A, 28 (36.8%) type B and 8 (10.6%) type C fractures. Twenty-five (32.9%) patients were treated non-operatively, 28 (36.8%) patients underwent internal fixation with plating and 23 (30.3%) patients were treated using external fixation method. Non-operative treatment was mostly used for closed injuries (80%) whereas majority of open fractures (82%) were treated operatively (P=0.033). Complications occurred in 48 (57.8%) patients, including 30 (62.5%) wound infections, 21 (43.7%) malunions and 3 (6%) chronic osteomyelitis. Infections were significantly higher among external fixation treated patients (P=0.002). At final follow up the functional outcome using OMAS was excellent in 11(14.5%) patients, good in 28 (36.8%), fair in 17 (22.4%) and poor in 20 (26.3%) patients. OMAS scores were significantly high in patients treated with plating and low in patients with comminuted fractures, complications and open injuries (P<0.001).
Conclusion: Distal tibia fractures mostly occurred in young males. Road traffic accidents and falls were the commonest causes. Treatment by plate fixation resulted in significantly higher functional outcome scores and lower rate of complications compared to non-operative treatment.
Recommendation: Distal tibia fractures should be treated operatively by plate fixation to improve treatment outcomes.
Keywords: Distal tibia fracture, OMAS, Treatment outcome