Background: There exists significant controversy regarding the use of suprapubic tubes (SPT) in pelvic fracture urethral injury (PFUI) patients undergoing internal fixation (IF) as to the potential risk of infection. Using the National Trauma Data Bank, we sought to examine if placement of SPT in patients with traumatic urethral injuries undergoing IF of pelvic fractures increases the risks of infectious complications during the index hospitalization.
Patients and methods: Using International Classification of Disease, version 9 and Abbreviated Injury Scale codes, patients with PFUI were identified in the National Trauma Data Bank between 2002 and 2014. International Classification of Disease, version 9 codes were used to identify patients who underwent IF of pelvic fractures, as well as those who underwent SPT placement. Covariates analyzed included age, Injury Severity Score (ISS), diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, obesity, smoking status, associated colorectal injuries, and pelvic angioembolization. Demographics, management and infectious complications were compared between IF patients who did or did not undergo SPT placement using χ and t tests. Poisson regression analysis was performed to identify independent predictors of infectious complications.
Results: Six hundred ninety-six PFUI patients were identified. Two hundred four (29.3%) patients underwent IF during the index hospitalization, of which 35 underwent concomitant SPT placement during that same admission. There was no difference in likelihood of undergoing IF in patients with or without SPT (p = 0.36). Multivariate analysis revealed that only ISS (Relative risk [RR], 4.00; 95% confidence interval, 1.25-12.77) and smoking status (RR, 2.45; 95% confidence interval, 1.11-5.43) were significant predictors of infectious complications, while SPT placement was not.
Conclusion: Among patients with PFUI undergoing IF, SPT placement does not appear to increase the risk for acute infectious complications during the index hospitalization, while higher ISS and smoking are significantly associated. Further longitudinal studies are required to provide definitive recommendations regarding the long-term safety of SPT placement in this patient population.
Level of evidence: Prognostic, level IV.