Surgical Site Infections Following Open Reduction and Internal Fixation of Ankle Fractures

The Open Orthopaedics Journal 22 July 2009 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874325000903010056



Ankle fracture fixation is one of the most commonly performed orthopaedic procedures. Although the results are generally favourable, complications are not uncommon, particularly in the case of surgical site infections. These have considerable impact on both postoperative morbidity and healthcare costs. Paradoxically, there is a paucity of literature studying patients who sustain them and therefore little is known about ways such occurrences can be minimised. The purpose of this study was to determine the infection rate following ankle fracture fixation and elucidate variables in their causation.


We retrospectively reviewed 50 consecutive patients who underwent open reduction and internal fixation of an ankle fracture. The study group consisted of 26 females and 24 males with an average age of 43 (Range 16-82) years.


Problems with superficial infections were noted in seven patients and deep infections in five. Of the latter, four patients underwent further surgery including two that had their metal work removed. With use of the Fisher’s exact test we determined that only smoking and a bimalleolar fracture pattern were significant variables, having p-values of 0.02 and 0.04 respectively.


We recommend that patients with ankle fractures who either have a history of smoking and/or bimalleolar injury be counselled about the potential risk of infection and its implications on their functional recovery. The ability to identify patients at risk of such problems highlights the need for caution during the perioperative period so that care strategies may be altered to facilitate recovery.

Keywords: Ankle fracture, open reduction internal fixation, infection, complication.
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