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The Incidence and Risk Factors Associated With the Need for Fasciotomy in Tibia and Forearm Fractures: An Analysis of the National Trauma Data Bank.



The aims of this study were to analyze a large national trauma database to determine the incidence of, risk factors for, and outcomes after a fasciotomy of the lower leg or forearm after fracture.


Data from the National Trauma Data Bank for the years 2004-2016 were analyzed, and we identified 301,351 patients with forearm fractures and 369,237 patients with tibial fractures. Risk factors, length of stay (LOS), and mortality were assessed to determine associations with an injury that required a fasciotomy.


A total of 1.22% of the forearm fractures and 3.79% of the tibial fractures had a fasciotomy. Patients with a fasciotomy were more likely to have invasive procedures (P < 0.0001); have injuries resulting from machinery, motor vehicle collisions, and firearms (P < 0.0001); and smoke, use drugs, and/or alcohol (P < 0.05) compared with patients who did not undergo fasciotomies. Fasciotomy procedures were associated with longer LOS and higher mortality rate (P < 0.05).


The incidence of a fasciotomy is less than 5% in tibia or forearm fractures. Patients who underwent fasciotomy have higher energy injuries, increased alcohol or drug use, higher rates of surgical interventions, and increased LOS. Furthermore, having a fasciotomy is associated with increased mortality rate. When counseling patients and evaluating surgeon/hospital performance, fasciotomies can serve as an indicator and modifier for a more complex trauma pathology.

Level of evidence

Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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