Wake Forest Baptist Participating in Nationwide Study of Tibia Injuries

October 5, 2012

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is participating in a nationwide study designed to determine the best way to treat severe tibia injuries sustained by the military.

The study is being conducted by the Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium (METRC), a Department of Defense-supported network of 28 civilian and military clinical research centers across the country. As part of the consortium’s FIXIT Study, Wake Forest Baptist orthopaedic surgeons and specialists will collect data on the relative effectiveness of the two standard methods of repairing compound fractures of the tibia, commonly known as the shinbone.

Severe tibia injuries are fractures in which the broken bone punctures the skin and in most cases cause serious damage to muscles and tissue in the lower leg. Regardless of which treatment method – an internal plate or an external ring – is employed, these injuries involve numerous surgeries and the recovery time can be 18 months or longer, during which the risk of infection is extremely high.

While serious shinbone injuries are relatively rare among civilians – most cases result from vehicle accidents – they are common in the military, especially in combat situations, and historically have high complication rates and poor outcomes.

“These are complex, life-changing injuries and both methods of treatment – the internal plate and the external ring – have their pros and cons,” said Robert D. Teasdall, M.D., professor of orthopaedics at Wake Forest Baptist and its primary METRC investigator. “There’s just not enough data out there about outcomes, so this study is going to collect the information necessary to determine which – if either – method is more effective.”

The results of the study will also help improve treatment of similar injuries in civilians.

This study is being funded by the DOD OETRP METRC Consortium Award (W81XWH-09-2-0108).

Media Relations

Mac Ingraham: mingraha@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-3487

Marguerite Beck: marbeck@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-2415