Open tibia fractures in HIV positive patients

  • WJ Harrison


Open tibia fractures are common injuries, particularly in developing countries.Pedestrian or bicycle to motor car contact is the most common mechanism.These injuries result in high morbidity and often long-term disability. HIV infection complicates open fractures by raising the
incidence of infectionin the open wound (5 of 7 patients in our series). This risk may be compounded if internal fixation techniques are used (5 of 12 HIV patients with internal fixation of any open fracture). There is also a
suggestion that HIV may delay bone union (4 of 7 patients united at 6 months). External fixation offers an alternative method of fracture stabilisation. It avoids the risks associated with putting metal-ware in the wound, but creates a new issue of pin track sepsis. We found that
pin track infection was more common in patients with HIV, but the rate at which pins required removal was 7%. We consider external fixation to be a lower-risk strategy than internal fixation in such patients but open fracture wound sepsis remains a problem. We have not yet demonstrated
a difference in severity or frequency of complications in patients of low CD4 count, but logically one expects septic complications to increase as CD4 count falls. Antiretroviral medication decreases viral load and elevates the CD4 count. Research is underway regarding potential effectiveness
of such drugs in reducing wound and fracture healing complications. Above all, meticulous and timely all-round care is required to achieve satisfactory results in immunecompromised patients. This includes, debridement, bony
stability, and soft-tissue reconstruction.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1995-7262
print ISSN: 1995-7262