Risk factors for treatment failure of fracture-related infections

Steven A. Horton, Benjamin W. Hoyt, Syed M.R. Zaidi, Michael G. Schloss, Manjari Joshi, Anthony R. Carlini, Renan C. Castillo, Robert V. O'Toole*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: Infection after fracture fixation is a potentially devastating outcome, and surgical management is frequently unsuccessful at clearing these infections. The purpose of this study is to determine if factors can be identified that are associated with treatment failure after operative management of a deep surgical site infection. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the billing system at a Level I trauma center between March 2006 and December 2015. We identified 451 patients treated for deep surgical site infection after fracture fixation at our center. A multivariate regression analysis was then performed to evaluate for factors associated with treatment failure. Results: Mean follow-up was 2.3 years. One hundred fifty-six patients (35%) failed initial surgical management. Risk factors associated with treatment failure included initial culture results positive for polymicrobial organisms (odds ratio [OR], 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0–2.4), removal of implants (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.2–2.9), or Gustilo-Anderson IIIB/IIIC injury (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.1–3.7). Increased body mass index and fulfilling the criteria to have a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nasal swab screening showed a trend toward increased risk of failure. Conclusion: Treatment failure after deep surgical site infection was relatively common. Three distinct factors (polymicrobial infection, removal of implants, and IIIB/C fracture) were associated with failure to eradicate the infection in the first series of surgeries and antibiotics. These data might help guide clinicians as they counsel patients on the risk of treatment failure and might focus efforts to improve treatment toward patients at higher risk of treatment failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1351-1355
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Fracture-related infection
  • Open fracture
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Surgical site infection
  • Treatment failure


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