Background: Scant evidence exists to support antibiotic use for low velocity ballistic fractures (LVBF). We therefore sought to define current practice patterns. We hypothesized that most surgeons prescribe antibiotics for LVBF, prescribing is not driven by institutional protocols, and that decisions are based on protocols utilized for blunt trauma. Materials and methods: A web-based questionnaire was emailed to the membership of the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA). The questionnaire included demographic information and questions about LVBF treatment practices. Two hundred and twenty surgeons responded. One hundred and fifty-four (70 %) respondents worked at a Level-1 trauma center, 176 (80 %) had received fellowship education in orthopaedic trauma and 104 (47 %) treated at least 10 ballistic fractures annually. Responses were analyzed with SAS 9.3 for Windows (SAS Institute Inc, Cary, NC). Results: One hundred eighty-six respondents (86 %) routinely provide antibiotics for LVBF. Those who did not were more apt to do so for intra-articular fractures (8/16, 50 %) and pelvic fractures with visceral injury (10/16, 63 %). Most surgeons (167, 76 %) do not believe the Gustilo–Anderson classification applies to ballistic fractures, and (20/29, 70 %) do not base their antibiotic choice on the classification system. Few institutions (58, 26 %) have protocols guiding antibiotic use for LVBF. Conclusions: Routine antibiotic use for LVBF is common; however, practice is not dictated by institutional protocol. Although antibiotic use generally follows current blunt trauma guidelines, surgeons do not base their treatment decisions the Gustilo–Anderson classification. Given the high rate of antibiotic use for LVBF, further study should focus on providing evidence-based treatment guidelines.
- Ballistic fracture
- Gunshot wound
- Open fracture
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine