Deep Surgical Site Infections Following a Distal Femur Fracture

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September 26, 2019
Edward Smith

Deep Surgical Site Infections Following a Distal Femur Fracture

According to a recent study that was published in the Journal of Academic Medicine (JAMA), surgeons need to be wary of the risk of deep surgical site infections. Based on the results of the study, this is a particularly significant risk in distal femur fractures. The distal part of the femur is the area that articulates with the knee. If a femur fracture is present in the distal portion of the bone, this places the knee at significant risk for associated injuries and complications. This includes damage to the nerves and blood vessels that supply the knee, the ligaments in and around the knee (such as the ACL and MCL), and infections. The rate of deep surgical site infections was explored in a recent study published in JAMA.

The Design of the Study

There have been numerous studies completed exploring the rates of infection throughout the area around the femur, tibia, and proximal knee. All of the studies have concluded that patients who develop a deep surgical site infection have a much higher mortality rate and length of stay in the hospital. Patients with an infection are more likely to spend extra days in the hospital, have higher medical costs, and possibly die in the hospital.

The goal of the researchers was to collect the various studies that have been performed on fractures of the distal femur and knee area. Then, the researchers wanted to total up all of the patients and all of the infection rates. The goal was to come up with a consensus surrounding deep surgical site infections following a distal femur fracture. Some of the factors that might influence the rate of infections include the location of the injury, when the research was completed, and the number of patients included in the study.

The Results of the Study on Deep Surgical Site Infections

Overall there were close to 11,500 patients included in the comprehensive study. In total, close to six percent of patients were diagnosed with a deep surgical site infection. This means that more than 1,500 patients in the study subsequently developed an infection after their injury. In addition, about two percent of patients developed a complication called septic arthritis. This is a devastating infectious complication that might make it hard for patients to regain their mobility following a traumatic accident.

Once a patient has been diagnosed with a surgical site infection, the next step is to take a culture. The most common bacteria isolated was MRSA, which typically requires IV antibiotics to treat. This is why patients need to stay in the hospital longer following a deep surgical site infection. This study shows that surgeons need to be wary of deep surgical site infections and the impact that they can have on patients. Future studies need to focus on ways to reduce the rate of surgical site infections following a femur fracture.

Other Complications of a Distal Femur Fracture

In addition to infection, there are other significant complications that may develop following an injury of the distal femur. According to research studies, these include compartment syndrome and arthrofibrosis.

In compartment syndrome, swelling develops in and around the knee. This swelling can become so tight that it constricts the flow of blood to the knee. Without blood, the cells of the knee become starved for oxygen and nutrients and might start to die. In order to prevent this complication from potentially killing the tissue entirely, an emergency surgical procedure called a fasciotomy is performed. This releases the tension and the pressure, allowing blood to circulate appropriately.

Arthrofibrosis is another relatively common complication following surgeries involving the distal femur and the knee. In arthrofibrosis, scar tissue develops following the injury. This scar tissue builds up to the point that people have trouble moving their leg. This can restrict the range of motion of the knee, making it hard for people to walk or run. With physical therapy and rehabilitation, the effects of arthrofibrosis can be reversed.

Sacramento Femur Fracture Lawyer 

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento femur fracture lawyer. Deep surgical site infections can be a serious complication of a distal femur fracture. If someone you care about has been diagnosed with complications following a distal femur fracture due to the negligence of another person or entity, please contact me today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.

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