A single-stage treatment protocol for presumptive aseptic diaphyseal nonunions: A review of outcomes

Louis F. Amorosa, Leon D. Buirs, Rens Bexkens, David S. Wellman, Peter Kloen, Dean G. Lorich, David L. Helfet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE:: To review the results of a single-stage treatment protocol for presumptive aseptic diaphyseal nonunion with a well-healed wound and no infection history. DESIGN:: Retrospective comparative study. SETTING:: Tertiary referral center. PATIENTS AND METHODS:: We retrospectively reviewed all presumptive aseptic diaphyseal nonunions treated by a single-stage protocol. There were 104 patients who met the inclusion criteria. Eighty-seven patients were available for follow-up through to complete healing (83.7% follow-up rate). INTERVENTION:: The protocol entails withholding preoperative antibiotics, removing the implant, performing open debridement or canal reaming, taking 5 cultures of the nonunion site or canal reamings, followed by antibiotic administration, and revision open reduction and internal fixation or exchange nailing. If intraoperative cultures are positive, long-term antibiotics are begun specific to organism sensitivities. MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS:: To analyze the rate of positive cultures and to compare the rate of secondary surgery to promote healing in positive and negative culture groups. RESULTS:: Intraoperative cultures were positive in 28.7% (25/87) of patients with complete follow-up. The overall rate of secondary surgery for persistence of nonunion was 12.6% (11/87). In patients with positive intraoperative cultures, rate of secondary surgery was 28% (7/25) versus 6.4% (4/62) in the group without positive intraoperative cultures (P = 0.01). CONCLUSION:: A single-stage treatment protocol for presumptive aseptic diaphyseal nonunions was effective in obviating further revision surgery in 93.6% of truly aseptic cases and in 72% of positive culture cases and is still employed at our institution. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:: Prognostic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-586
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Trauma
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Diaphyseal nonunion
  • Infected nonunion
  • aseptic nonunion
  • exchange nailing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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