Initial management of open hand fractures in an emergency department

Am J Orthop (Belle Mead NJ). 2011 Dec;40(12):E243-8.


We retrospectively reviewed the cases of patients with open hand fractures and/or dislocations managed at our institution between 2001 and 2009. The management protocol consisted of irrigation and debridement, reduction (if necessary), splinting, and antibiotics administration in the emergency department. Patients with vascular compromise or severe mangling open wounds were taken to the operating room for treatment. Data regarding demographics, wound size and modified Gustilo-Anderson classification, and timing of interventions were recorded. Included in the study were 145 cases (91 class III, 41 class II, and 13 class I injuries). In 102 cases, definitive and final management took place in the emergency department; in the other 43 cases, additional management took place in the operating room. Antibiotics were administered within 4 hours after injury, and irrigation and debridement were performed within 6 hours. Each of the 2 infections (1.4%) developed in a class III injury. In open hand fractures, particularly type I and type II wounds, the protocol we followed can be appropriate when the injury is not the severe mangling type and does not require acute vascular repair.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Debridement
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Open / complications
  • Fractures, Open / diagnosis
  • Fractures, Open / therapy*
  • Hand Injuries / complications
  • Hand Injuries / diagnosis
  • Hand Injuries / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tendon Injuries / complications
  • Tendon Injuries / pathology
  • Tendon Injuries / therapy
  • Therapeutic Irrigation
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Wound Infection / prevention & control


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents