Epidemiology of Open Tibia fractures presenting to a tertiary referral centre in Southern Malawi: a retrospective study

Kaweme Mwafulirwa1, Remedy Munthali2, Ian Ghosten2, Alexander Schade3

  1. Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Surgery Department
  2. Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Orthopedics Department
  3. Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme

*Corresponding Author: Kaweme Mwafulirwa E-mail: drmwafulirwa@yahoo.com

Road traffic accidents in Malawi have increased in recent years resulting in a high incidence of trauma seen in the hospitals as well as a high prevalence of musculoskeletal impairment in the community. Open fractures are a common consequence of road traffic accidents and the tibia is the most common long bone open fracture.
Epidemiology of open tibia fractures at the largest tertiary level hospital in Malawi and incidence of infections of open fractures managed at the institution.
This was a retrospective study of consecutive open tibia fracture patients seen and admitted to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital’s (QECH) orthopedic department from 1st January 2019 to 31st December 2019. Patients with life-threatening head, chest, or abdominal injuries were excluded as management takes priority over any limb-threatening injury.
There were 72 open tibia fractures screened, and 60 of these met our entry criteria; 6 patients did not, while 6 patient files were missing. The median age of patients was 36 years, IQR (27-44.75) with Males making up 82%(n=49) of open fractures. Most of the open tibia fractures were caused by road traffic accidents 63%(n=38), followed by assaults 18%(n=11), falls 17%(n=10), and industrial accidents 2%(n=1). 26.7% (n=16) of open tibia fractures developed an infection. We found that patients’ average length of stay was 16. 9(IQR 9.5-31.25) days. Most of the injuries (68.3%, n=41) were moderate to high energy injuries being Gustilo et al. grade II and III open tibia fractures.
This study identified that open tibia fractures were common in our hospital and that were often high energy injuries requiring an extended hospital stay to manage. The infection rate noted was higher than that reported on average in lower- and middle-income countries. There is a need to do more robust prospective studies in the area to gather more information.

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