Osteomyelitis Risk Factors Related to Combat Trauma Open Upper Extremity Fractures: A Case-Control Analysis

Tyler E. Warkentien, Louis R. Lewandowski, Benjamin K. Potter, Joseph L. Petfield, Daniel J. Stinner, Margot Krauss, Clinton K. Murray, David R. Tribble*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine risk factors for osteomyelitis in US military personnel with combat-related, extremity long bone (humerus, radius, and ulna) open fractures. Design: Retrospective observational case-control study. Setting: US military regional hospital in Germany and tertiary care military hospitals in the United States (2003-2009). Patients/Participants: Sixty-four patients with open upper extremity fractures who met diagnostic osteomyelitis criteria (medical record review verification) were classified as cases. Ninety-six patients with open upper extremity fractures who did not meet osteomyelitis diagnostic criteria were included as controls. Intervention: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measurements: Multivariable odds ratios (ORs; 95% confidence interval [CI]). Results: Among patients with surgical implants, osteomyelitis cases had longer time to definitive orthopaedic surgery compared with controls (median: 26 vs. 11 days; P <0.001); however, there was no significant difference with timing of radiographic union. Being injured between 2003 and 2006, use of antibiotic beads, Gustilo-Anderson [GA] fracture classification (highest with GA-IIIb: [OR: 22.20; CI: 3.60-136.95]), and Orthopaedic Trauma Association Open Fracture Classification skin variable (highest with extensive degloving [OR: 15.61; CI: 3.25-74.86]) were independently associated with osteomyelitis risk. Initial stabilization occurring outside of the combat zone was associated with reduced risk of osteomyelitis. Conclusions: Open upper extremity fractures with severe softtissue damage have the highest risk of developing osteomyelitis. The associations with injuries sustained 2003-2006 and location of initial stabilization are likely from evolving trauma system recommendations and practice patterns during the timeframe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E475-E483
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Trauma
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Forearm
  • Humerus
  • Open fractures
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Trauma-related


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