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Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology


Non-unions remain a major complication in the treatment of long-bone fractures and affect quality of life considerably. Both early detection and treatment of non-unions are essential to secure subsequent fracture union. Sufficient vascularization plays a key role in the healing process. The aim of this prospective study was to quantify the microperfusion within non-unions by means of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) as early as 12 weeks after non-union surgery and to examine the prognostic capability of CEUS in predicting treatment failure. Among 112 patients who had undergone non-union surgery, consolidation within 36 mo was achieved in 89 patients (“responders”), whereas 23 patients showed persistent non-unions (“non-responders”) and required further surgery. CEUS quantification parameters such as peak enhancement, wash-in area under the curve and wash-in perfusion index revealed significantly higher perfusion levels in “responders” compared with “non-responders” (p < 0.05). Receiver operator characteristic curve analysis revealed that persistent fracture non-unions could be predicted with a sensitivity/specificity of 88.7%/72.2% in lower-limb non-unions and a sensitivity/specificity of 66.7%/100.0% in upper-limb non-unions. CEUS is a suitable diagnostic tool in predicting treatment failure as early as 12 weeks after non-union surgery and should be integrated into the clinical routine when deciding on revision surgery at an early stage.

Authors: Julian Doll 1; Stefan Waizenegger 1; Gerhard Schmidmaier 1; Marc-André Weber 2; Christian Fischer 1

1 Ultrasound Centre, Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany; 2 Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University Medical Centre Rostock, Germany

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