External fixation as a primary and definitive treatment of open limb fractures

Injury. 1995 May;26(4):245-8. doi: 10.1016/0020-1383(95)90010-u.


This paper analyses the medical records of 5024 injured persons treated and operated on at the Surgical Clinic of the Clinical Hospital in Osijek, during the war against Croatia (1991 and 1992). There were 1653 (33.0 per cent) admitted, while the rest were treated as out-patients. Of the admitted patients 82.7 per cent (1372) had limb injuries. In 760 (15.0 per cent) of the wounded, 1320 limb fractures caused by explosives were diagnosed, out of which 856 were of the lower and 464 of the upper limbs. One hundred and ninety-two (3.9 per cent) were treated by external fixation. External fixators were applied to 147 lower and 68 upper open long bones, respectively. Adequate reconstructive operations were performed on 106 (2.1 per cent) patients with associated injuries to important blood vessels. The stabilization of the open and unstable external fractures was achieved by external fixation, mostly at one level, regardless of the wound size. The importance of good wound cleaning has been particularly stressed as well as bone fragment reposition. Special attention has been given to the preoperative and intra-operative assessment of the limbs. In 20 patients (9.3 per cent) treated with external fixation, osteitis occurred. Twenty-one more patients (9.7 per cent), because of bad fracture healing after external fixation, were submitted to secondary internal bone fixation combined with bone grafts. Out of these, nine (42.8 per cent) developed osteitis as a consequence of the additional treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Arm Injuries / etiology
  • Arm Injuries / surgery*
  • Blast Injuries / surgery*
  • Croatia
  • External Fixators*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Leg Injuries / etiology
  • Leg Injuries / surgery*
  • Warfare*