Pin-track infection in HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients with open fractures treated by external fixation
Patients infected with HIV presenting with an open fracture of a long bone are difficult to manage. There is an unacceptably high rate of post-operative infection after internal fixation. There are no published data on the use of external fixation in such patients. We compared the rates of pin-track infection in HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients presenting with an open fracture. There were 47 patients with 50 external fixators, 13 of whom were HIV-positive (15 fixators).
There were significantly more pin-track infections requiring pharmaceutical or surgical intervention (Checketts grade 2 or greater) in the HIV-positive group (t-test, p = 0.001). The overall rate of severe pin-track infection in the HIV-positive patients requiring removal of the external-fixator pins was 7%. This contrasts with other published data which have shown higher rates of wound infection if open fractures are treated by internal fixation.