Effects of a formalized collaboration between plastic and orthopedic surgeons in severe extremity trauma patients; a retrospective study

J Trauma Manag Outcomes. 2015 Apr 15:9:3. doi: 10.1186/s13032-015-0023-4. eCollection 2015.


Background: Severe trauma to the extremities often includes a combination of fractures and soft tissue injuries. Several publications support that the patient outcome is better when skeletal stabilization is followed by early soft-tissue coverage. In an effort to optimize the treatment of these patients, we established a formalized collaboration in 2008 between the Departments of reconstructive plastic surgery and orthopedics at the Karolinska University Hospital.

Methods: A retrospective review was conducted for all patients who had suffered severe extremity trauma and received either a free or a pedicled flap for extremity reconstruction. We compared the management of patients 0-4 years before and 0-4 years after the collaboration started especially with respect to; choice of flap, time to flap coverage, number of operations/revisions, total in-hospital stay.

Results: After initiation of the collaboration, the number of flaps increased from 13 flaps (5 free and 8 pedicled) to 44 flaps (21 free and 23 pedicled). Fewer postoperative revisions was seen, as well as shorter in-hospital stay.

Conclusions: The present study highlights the importance of formalized collaboration between orthopedic and plastic surgeons in severe extremity trauma patients. The concept of an interdisciplinary approach has led to an increased number of trauma patients referred for plastic surgical consultation, an increased number of flaps, fewer postoperative revisions and shorter hospital stay.

Keywords: Extremity trauma; Flaps; Orthoplastic collaboration.