Epidemiology of open fractures in sport: One centre's 15-year retrospective study

World J Orthop. 2017 Jul 18;8(7):545-552. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v8.i7.545.


Aim: To describe the epidemiology of sport-related open fractures from one centre's adult patient population over a 15-year period.

Methods: A retrospective review of a prospectively-collected database was performed: The database contained information all sport-related open fractures, sustained from 1995 to 2009 in the Edinburgh, Mid and East Lothian Populations.

Results: Over the 15-year period, there were 85 fractures recorded in 84 patients. The annual incidence of open sport-related fractures was 0.01 per 1000 population. The mean age at injury was 29.2 years (range 15-67). There were 70 (83%) males and 14 females (17%). The 6 most common sports were soccer (n = 19, 22%), rugby (n = 9, 11%), cycling (n = 8, 9%), hockey (n = 8, 9%); horse riding (n = 6, 7%) and skiing (n = 6, 7%). The five most common anatomical locations were finger phalanges (n = 30, 35%); tibial diaphysis (n = 19, 23%); forearm (n = 12, 14%); ankle (n = 7, 8%) and metacarpals (n = 5, 6%). The mean injury severity score was 7.02. According to the Gustilo-Anderson classification system, 45 (53%) fractures were grade 1; 28 (33%) fractures were grade 2; 8 (9%) fractures were grade 3a; and 4 (5%) fractures were grade 3b. Out of the total number of fractures, 7 (8%) required plastic surgical intervention as part of management. The types of flaps used were split skin graft (n = 4), fasciocutaneous flaps (n = 2); and adipofascial flap (n = 1).

Conclusion: We analysed the epidemiology of open fractures secondary to sport in one centre over a 15-year period. Soccer and rugby were the most common causative sports while fractures of the finger phalanx and of the tibial diaphysis were the most common sites. Open fractures are uncommon in sport; however, when they are sustained they usually occur on muddy sport fields or forest tracks and therefore must be treated appropriately. It is important that clinicians and sports therapists have knowledge of these injuries, in order to ensure they are managed optimally.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Fracture; Injury; Open; Sport; Trauma.