Background Tibial shaft fracture is a common sports injury in young athletic population. Open fractures can result in significant morbidity. Our aim was to study the epidemiology, severity and soft tissue coverage of sports related open tibial shaft fractures in the southeast of Scotland over the last 22 years.
Methods We identified 502 patients from our prospective trauma database between 1988 and 2010 with open tibial shaft fractures and 33 patients (6.5%) had sports related fractures. Demographic details were recorded along with sports played, severity of injuries by using injury severity score, severity of fractures by using Gustillo Anderson classification system and requirement of soft tissue coverage procedures.
Results The mean age was 30 years (range- 15–67). 29 (88%) were male and four female (12%). The most common sport played was football in 20 patients (61%) followed by rugby in three patients (9%) skiing, quad bike and horse riding in two patients each (6%) and golf, squash, cycling and sledging in one patient (3%) each.
The mean injury severity score was 10.8 (range 10–16). Eleven patients (33%) had grade 1, fifteen patients (46%) had grade 2, five patients (15%) had grade 3a and two patients (6%) had grade 3b injuries according to Gustillo Anderson classification system of open fractures.
Eight patients (24%) required soft tissue coverage for the treatment of these fractures. The types of flaps used were fasciocutaneous flap in four patients, split skin graft in three patients and adipofascial flap in four patients.
Discussion We looked at the epidemiology of open tibia shaft fractures in the southeast of Scotland in last 22 years and found that football was the most common sport (61%) associated with these fractures. 88% patients were male. 21% patients had severe (grade 3) injuries and 24% patients required soft tissue coverage for the treatment of these fractures. This information can help sports physicians in planning orthopaedic and plastic services for the treatment of sports related open tibial shaft fractures.
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