Nationwide study on open tibial fractures in the Netherlands: Incidence, demographics and level of hospital care

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Objectives: Open tibial fractures are relatively common injuries following traffic accidents. The vulnerability of the soft tissues surrounding the tibia increases the susceptibility to complications, including infection and nonunion. To minimize complications, a multidisciplinary, timely approach is crucial. To date, the Dutch incidence and level of hospital treatment remain unknown due to a lack of condition-specific nationwide registries. This study aimed to estimate the incidence and management of open tibial fractures in the Netherlands, providing essential information for public health policymaking and guideline development. Methods: The 2018 and 2019 Dutch National Hospital Care Basic Registration data, provided by the Dutch Hospital Data Foundation, were utilized to identify all patients admitted to Dutch hospitals with tibial fractures. Incidence rates, patient demographics, primary diagnoses, fracture classification, level of hospital, and length of hospital stays were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: 1,079 ICD-10 codes for closed and open tibial fractures were identified in patients that were admitted to a Dutch hospital. Thirty-four percent were classified as open tibial fractures, accounting for an estimated incidence rate of 1.1 per 100,000 person-years (95 % CI 0.97–1.12). When categorized by age, the calculated incidence rate was higher in males for all age categories up until the age of 70. Notably, the overall highest incidence rate was found for females aged 90 and above (6.6 per 100,000 person-years). Open tibial fractures were predominantly treated in general or top clinical hospitals (comprising 69 % of open all tibia fractures). Notably, the minority (31 %) presented at university medical centers, all Level-1 trauma centers, equipped with orthoplastic teams. Conclusion: This is the first study to report the nationwide incidence rate of open tibial fractures in the Netherlands; 34 % of tibial fractures were registered as open. Notably, a limited proportion of open tibial fractures underwent treatment within Level-1 trauma centers. Consequently, in the majority of cases, the implementation of an orthoplastic team approach was unattainable. This study underscores the need for more comprehensive data collection to assess and improve the current treatment landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111487
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • Age factors
  • Epidemiology
  • Limb reconstruction
  • Open tibial fractures
  • Trauma centers
  • Wounds and injuries

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