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Wound complications after ankle surgery. Does compression treatment work? A randomized, controlled trial

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PURPOSE: Infection rates following ankle fractures are as high as 19% in selected material and is the most common complication following this type of surgery, with potential catastrophic consequences. The purpose of this study was to test a regime of intermittent pneumatic compression, a compression bandage and a compression stocking and its effect on the rate of wound complications. The hypothesis was that compression could lower the infection rate from 20 to 5%.

METHODS: We performed a randomized, controlled, non-blinded trial, including 153 adult patients with unstable ankle fractures. Patients were randomized to either compression (N = 82) or elevation (N = 71). Patients with open fracture, DVT, pulmonary embolism, dementia, no pedal pulse, or no Danish address were excluded. Primary endpoint was infection. Secondary endpoints were necrosis and wound dehiscence.

RESULTS: After 2 weeks, 1.4% (0.0;7.6) in the compression group had infection compared to 4.6% (1.0;12.9) in the control group, p = 0.35. The rate of necrosis after 2 weeks was 7.0% (95% CI 2.3;15.7) in the compression group compared with 26.2% (95% CI 16.0;38.5) in the elevation group, p = 0.004. No difference was shown regarding wound dehiscence.

CONCLUSION: Based on this study, we cannot conclude if compression therapy prevents infection or not. This is mainly due to under-powering of the study. The effect on necrosis was in favor of compression, but the trial was not powered to show a difference regarding this endpoints and the result is thus hypothesis generating. Further research is needed before a thorough recommendation on the use of compression treatment that can be made.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Volume44
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)947-956
ISSN1863-9933
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 52615521