Objectives: To study the long term effect of tibial shaft fractures treated by immobilisation in a long leg cast on the calf muscle bulk.
Methods: Computed tomography scans were performed at fixed points on the lower legs of 23 non-professional athletes who sustained closed tibial fractures 16 years previously. Length of immobilisation was determined from the hospital records. All the fractures were treated non-operatively. The cross sectional area of the various leg compartments was measured and compared with the non-injured leg.
Results: There was a significant reduction in cross sectional area of the posterior compartment (p<0.001, Student’s t test). No such difference was seen in the anterolateral compartment.
Conclusion: Tibial fractures treated non-operatively are associated with significant long term calf muscle wasting.
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Competing interests: none declared
Approval for this study was obtained from the ethics committee of Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, Ireland
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