Amputation rate following tibia fractures with associated popliteal artery injuries

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

Objectives: 1. Determine the amputation rate; and 2. identify risk factors in patients with tibia fractures and associated popliteal artery injuries. Intervention: Amputation or limb salvage. Design: Retrospective case-control study. Setting: Level 1 trauma center. Patients: Thirty popliteal artery injuries with ipsilateral tibial fractures. Outcome measures: Primary and delayed amputation rates were determined. Risk factors tested for significance (Fischer's Exact) included: mechanism of injury, signs of threatened viability, compartment syndrome, fracture pattern, surgical sequence, and time delay from injury or presentation to revascularization. Results: The study group consisted of 22 males and 8 females, with a mean age of 31 years. Motor vehicle accidents and gunshot wounds constituted the mechanism in 17 and 11 patients respectively. Twenty-one were polytrauma victims. Intra/extra16 articular metaphyseal fractures (OTA 41 A-C) were recorded in 19 and diaphyseal (OTA 42 A-C) in 7 patients. Primary amputation was performed in 7 and delayed in 10 patients (overall rate 57%). No individual risk factors were predictive of amputation; however, the "miserable triad" of a proximal tibia fracture (OTA 41) with signs of threatened viability, and delay to revascularization ≥ 6 hours from injury or ≥ 2 hours from presentation was predictive of amputation (p = 0,036 and p = 0,018 respectively). Conclusions: We should aim to intervene within 6 hours following injury or 2 hours following presentation to reduce the risk of amputation. This provides a target for trauma teams even with uncertain time of injury. Level of Evidence: III.