Incidence of treatment for infection of buried versus exposed kirschner wires in phalangeal, metacarpal, and distal radial fractures
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PURPOSE: To determine whether there is a difference in the incidence of infection between exposed and buried K-wires when used to treat phalangeal, metacarpal, and distal radius fractures. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review identifying all patients aged greater than 16 years who underwent fixation of phalangeal, metacarpal, or distal radius fractures with K-wires between 2007 and 2015. We recorded patient demographic data, fracture location, number of K-wires used, whether K-wires were buried or left exposed, and duration of K-wire placement. RESULTS: A total of 695 patients met inclusion criteria. Surgeons buried K-wires in 207 patients and left K-wires exposed in 488. Infections occurred more frequently in exposed K-wire cases than in buried K-wire ones. Subgroup analysis based on fracture location revealed a significantly increased risk of being treated for infection when exposed K-wires were used for metacarpal fractures. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with exposed K-wires for fixation of phalangeal, metacarpal, or distal radius fractures were more likely to be treated for a pin-site infection than those with K-wires buried beneath the skin. Metacarpal fractures treated with exposed K-wires were 2 times more likely to be treated for a pin-site infection (17.6% of exposed K wire cases vs 8.7% of buried K wire cases). TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic IV.
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