Risk of Infection Following Gunshot Wound Fractures to the Foot and Ankle: A Multicenter Retrospective Study.

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Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery


The purpose of this multicenter retrospective chart review was to describe demographics, fracture and wound characteristics, and treatments for foot and/or ankle fractures caused by gunshot wounds (GSWs) and identify factors that increase risk of infection in adults treated at 5 urban level 1 trauma centers in South and Midwest regions of the United States. A total of 244 patients sustained GSW-related fractures of the foot/ankle during 2007-2017, of whom 179 had ≥30 days of follow-up data after the initial injury. Most patients were male (95.1%; 232/244) with an average age of 31.2 years. On average, patients sustained 1.3 GSWs (range 1-5) to the foot/ankle. Most GSWs were categorized as low energy (85.1%; 171/201) and the majority (58.2%; 142/244) had retained bullet fragments. Antibiotics were administered at initial presentation to 78.7% (192/244) of patients and 41.8% (102/244) were managed operatively at the time of initial injury. Nerve injury, vascular injury, and infection were documented in, respectively, 8.6% (21/243), 6.6% (16/243), and 17.2% (42/244) of all cases. Multivariable analysis revealed that high-energy injuries and retained bullet fragments increased the risk of infection by 3-fold (odds ratio 3.09, 95% confidence interval 1.16-8.27, p =.025) and 3.5-fold (OR 3.48, 95% CI1.40-8.67; p =.008), respectively. Side of injury, primary injury region, and vascular injury were not significant predictors of infection risk. Further research should examine whether retained bullet fragments are directly associated with infection risk and support the development of guidelines regarding the management of patients with GSW-related fractures to the ankle/foot.

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W B Saunders