Limb Trauma

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  • A multidisciplinary team, including orthopaedic and plastic surgeons with appropriate experience, is required for the treatment of complex open fractures.
  • Hospitals which lack a team with requisite expertise to treat complex open fractures should have arrangements for immediate referral to the nearest specialist centre.
  • The primary surgical treatment (wound debridement/excision and skeletal stabilisation) of these complex injuries takes place at the specialist centre whenever possible.
  • Specialist centres for the management of severe open fractures are organised on a regional basis as part of a regional trauma system. Usually these centres also provide the regional service for major trauma.

Primary management in the emergency department

  • Initial assessment and treatment of the patient occurs simultaneously and in accordance with Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS®) principles.
  • Assessment of the open tibial injury is systematic, careful and repeated in order to identify established or evolving limb-threatening conditions and to document limb status prior to manipulation or surgery.
  • Haemorrhage control is through direct pressure or, as a last resort, application of a tourniquet.
  • Wounds are handled  to
  • Remove gross contaminants
  • Photograph for record
  • Seal from the environment
    • Limb splintage is the most appropriate means of immobilisation available in the Emergency Department. Provisional external fixators are not applied.
    • Antibiotic and anti-tetanus prophylaxis is given.
    • Multiple X Rays are taken to assess the exact nature of the injury

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