The intersection of fracture healing and infection: Orthopaedics research society workshop 2021

Justin E. Hellwinkel, Zachary M. Working, Laura Certain, Andrés J. García, Joseph C. Wenke, Chelsea S. Bahney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Infection is a common cause of impaired fracture healing. In the clinical setting, definitive fracture treatment and infection are often treated separately and sequentially, by different clinical specialties. The ability to treat infection while promoting fracture healing will greatly reduce the cost, number of procedures, and patient morbidity associated with infected fractures. In order to develop new therapies, scientists and engineers must understand the clinical need, current standards of care, pathologic effects of infection on fractures, available preclinical models, and novel technologies. One of the main causes of poor fracture healing is infection; unfortunately, bone regeneration and infection research are typically approached independently and viewed as two separate disciplines. Here, we aim to bring these two groups together in an educational workshop to promote research into the basic and translational science that will address the clinical challenge of delayed fracture healing due to infection. Statement of clinical significance: Infection and nonunion are each feared outcomes in fracture care, and infection is a significant driver of nonunion. The impact of nonunions on patie[Q2]nt well-being is substantial. Outcome data suggests a long bone nonunion is as impactful on health-related quality of life measures as a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and fracture-related infection has been shown to significantly l[Q3]ower a patient's quality of life for over 4 years. Although they frequently are associated with one another, the treatment approaches for infections and nonunions are not always complimentary and cannot be performed simultaneously without accepting tradeoffs. Furthermore, different clinical specialties are often required to address the problem, the orthopedic surgeon treating the fracture and an infectious disease specialist addressing the sources of infection. A sequential approach that optimizes treatment parameters requires more time, more surgeries, and thus confers increased morbidity to the patient. The ability to solve fracture healing and infection clearance simultaneously in a contaminated defect would benefit both the patient and the health care system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-552
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Osteomyelitis
  • fracture healing
  • fracture infection
  • open fracture
  • orthopedic infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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