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Treatment principles in the management of open fractures

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Author(s): Cross III William | Swiontkowski Marc

Journal: Indian Journal of Orthopaedics
ISSN 0019-5413

Volume: 42;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 377;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Fracture principles | open fractures | trauma

ABSTRACT
The management of open fractures continues to provide challenges for the orthopedic surgeon. Despite the improvements in technology and surgical techniques, rates of infection and nonunion are still troublesome. Principles important in the treatment of open fractures are reviewed in this article. Early antibiotic administration is of paramount importance in these cases, and when coupled with early and meticulous irrigation and debridement, the rates of infection can be dramatically decreased. Initial surgical intervention should be conducted as soon as possible, but the classic 6 h rule does not seem to be supported in the literature. All open fractures should be addressed for the risk of contamination from Clostridium tetani . When possible, early closure of open fracture wounds, either by primary means or by flaps, can also decrease the rate of infection, especially from nosocomial organisms. Early skeletal stabilization is necessary, which can be accomplished easily with temporary external fixation. Adhering to these principles can help surgeons provide optimal care to their patients and assist them in an early return to function.
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