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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 6-16

A systematic review of incidence of pin track infections associated with external fixation

1 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Nemours Children's Hospital, Orlando, FL 32827, USA
2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, RBC 6081, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

Correspondence Address:
Christopher A Iobst
Nemours Children's Hospital, 13535 Nemours Parkway, Orlando, FL 32827
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2455-3719.182570

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Depending on the reference, pin track infection rates in external fixation surgery have been stated to be anywhere from 0% to 100%. We critically evaluated the pin track infection rate for external fixation by performing systematic review of the external fixation literature since 1980. Using PubMed, a search of the peer-reviewed literature on external fixation was performed. This systematic review was conducted, as much as possible, in accordance with PICOS and PRISMA guidelines. A total of 150 articles were reviewed, including at least one from each year between 1980 and 2014. The following data were collected from each article: the year of publication, number of patients in the study, average age of the patients, reason for the external fixation, fixation per segment (two or more than two points), body part involved, whether or not hydroxyapatite-coated pins were used, duration of the external fixator, type of fixator used, and number of patients with documented pin track infections. These 150 studies represented 6130 patients. There were 1684 reported pin track infections from these 6130 patients, giving a cumulative pin track infection rate of 27.4%. A more recent year of publication was associated with an increasing infection rate (P = 0.015) while increasing age was associated with a decreased infection rate (P < 0.0005). There were trends toward association of humerus location (P = 0.059), shorter fixator duration (P = 0.056), and circular fixation (P = 0.079) with decreased infection rates. This systematic review of external fixation publications revealed a cumulative pin track infection rate of 27%. Younger age was the factor leading to increased pin track infection rates. Circular fixation trended toward being protective of pin track infection when usage was factored into the multiple regression analysis. Longer duration of fixation trended toward increased infection rate as expected. This data provides important base values for a common complication in external fixation treatment, highlights the importance of a more consistent definition of a pin track infection in future research, and identifies the pediatric population as the group at greatest risk.

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