BACKGROUND: Surgery of malleolar fractures are often delayed due to oedema of the ankle. The use of intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) is thought to reduce oedema of the fracture site and thereby time to surgery in patients with malleolar fractures.
PURPOSE: To investigate the influence of IPC on the time from admission to surgery in adult patients with internal fixated primary malleolar fractures.
METHODS: February 1st 2013 IPC was introduced as a standard treatment for all patients admitted with a malleolar fracture. Data was retrieved from the hospital database 2 years prior and after the introduction date. The patients were found using ICD-10 diagnoses codes (DS825-8) in combination with NOMESCO procedure codes (KNHJ40-3, KNHJ60-3, KNHJ70-3, KNHJ80-3). One reviewer examined all the journals and classified the x-ray images by the AO classification. The primary outcome measure was time from diagnosis to surgery.
RESULTS: 74 patients in the IPC cohort and 113 in the non-IPC cohort were included in the study. Time from admission to surgery was 21.9 (10.8-45.0) hours in the control group and 22.1 (8.9-41.2) hours in the IPC group. The difference is not statistically significant (p=0.420). A subgroup analysis divided the patients operated before and after 24h from admission. The median (IQR) time to surgery for patients operated before 24h was 10.9 (6.4-16.9) hours for the control group and 9.9 (5.8-20.1) hours in the IPC group (p=0.989). The median (IQR) time to surgery for patients operated after 24h was 21.5 (4.1-57.0) hours for the control group and 18.4 (7.4-32.3) hours in the IPC group (p=0.353).
INTERPRETATION: There was no benefit from IPC on time to surgery in patients with acute primary malleolar fracture in a cohort with a mean surgical delay less than 24h.