The epidemiology and management of tibia and fibula fractures at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Northern Tanzania

Samuel John Clelland, Priyesh Chauhan, Faiton Ndesanjo Mandari
Publication year: 

Introduction: tibia/fibula fractures are one of the commonest admissions to the orthopaedic department at a resource-limited Northern Tanzanian hospital. These fractures are associated with poor prognosis and pose a huge socioeconomic burden on developing countries. However, to date there is a paucity of epidemiological data on lower-limb fractures in Tanzania. 

Methods: a retrospective review of admissions to the orthopaedic department at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) was completed between February 2015 and 2016. Inpatient record books were used to source epidemiological data which was subsequently analysed. 

Results: 199 of the 1016 patients admitted sustained tibia/fibula fractures. 78% (n=156) of admissions were male and the most frequently affected age group was 21-30 years. Motor traffic accidents (MTAs) were the most common cause and accounted for 78% of fractures, with nearly half of these involving motorbikes (42%). Falls were identified as the second most common cause (13%). It was determined that 72% (n=143) of fractures were open, 19% (n=38) were comminuted and the most common site of injury was the distal-third of tibia/fibula. The most frequently recorded treatments were surgical toilet/debridement (66% of patients) and the application of a backslab (34% of patients). 

Conclusion: males in the 21-30 age group, who were involved in MTAs, were most commonly affected by tibia/fibula fractures. Given that MTA incidence is increasing in Tanzania, there is a growing public health concern that this will be reflected by a step-increase in the number of people who sustain lower-limb fractures.