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Leg fractures get a closer examination in £2m research study

A national research study to find the best way to treat open fractures is being led by Warwick Medical School Professor and local Coventry orthopaedic consultant, Matt Costa.

Leg fractures are common injuries with the majority of these being ‘closed’ where the skin around the fracture remains intact. However, if the fracture is ‘open’ and the skin has been broken, the exposed bone is open to contamination which may lead to infection and disability.

Traditionally for open wounds, once it has been cleaned, a sterile dressing is applied to the exposed area. Negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT) is an alternative innovative form of dressing where foam is laid onto the wound which is attached to a pump which creates a partial vacuum. This removes blood and ooze from the area of the wound, reducing the risk of infection. But NPWT is more expensive than traditional wound dressings.

The research, which is being funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme, will compare both types of treatment in 460 patients over a year.

Matt Costa, Professor of Trauma and Orthopaedics and orthopaedic consultant at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust is chief investigator for the £2,180,337 study.

He said: “Infections in fracture wounds cause patients pain and delay their recovery.

“I am hoping this study will demonstrate which is the best and most cost effective treatment for patients, so that we can make recommendations to trauma centres across the UK, around what is the best, most up-to-date care for this particular injury.”

Once an initial six-month study has been conducted, a main trial will commence in 18 trauma centres throughout the UK.


For further information or to arrange interviews with Professor Matt Costa, contact Kate Cox, Communications Manager on +44 (0)2476 574255/150483, m: +44(0)7920 531221 or