Variation in treatment of low energy gunshot injuries – A survey of OTA members

Mai P. Nguyen, John J. Como, Joseph F. Golob, Michael S. Reich, Heather A. Vallier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine current practice patterns in the treatment of low energy gunshot wounds involving bones and joints. One hundred seventy-three Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) members completed a web-based survey. The survey included practices for antibiotic therapy and operative treatment for different types of low-energy gunshot injuries. Six different scenarios of soft tissue injury, intra-articular injury, and fractures were described. Several permutations of antibiotic therapy and operative or non-operative management options were given as choices on the survey. Survey responses had a high degree of heterogeneity with only two treatment options receiving more than 50% agreement among responders: 54% agreed on joint exploration with perioperative antibiotics for gunshot wounds (GSWs) traversing a joint and 55% agreed on treating operative tibial shaft fractures from GSWs with fixation, along with debridement and irrigation of the GSW tract, and perioperative antibiotics. The majority of participants (69%) were either not aware of or not sure of an established protocol for treatment of GSW to bones and joints at their institution. Moreover, there is still wide variation in treatments among 31% of the participants who reported a protocol in place at their institutions. We conclude there is wide variation among orthopaedic surgeons in the antimicrobial prophylaxis and treatment of GSWs. Opportunity exists to develop standardized practices to minimize related infections, other complications, and costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-574
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by a research grant from AO North America.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Antibiotics
  • GSW
  • Gunshot injuries
  • Orthopaedic
  • Practice patterns


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