Hyperbaric oxygen therapy does not change the amputation level in patients with fasciotomy after an earthquake: Our single-center experience after 2023 Kahramanmaras earthquake
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ankara Bilkent City Hospital, Ankara, Türkiye
Keywords: Earthquake, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Mangled Extremity Severity Score.
Objectives: This study aims to evaluate the effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) on the amputation level in patients undergoing fasciotomy with a Mangled Extremity Severity Score (MESS) score of ≥7 after 2023 Kahramanmaras earthquake.
Patients and methods: Between February 6th, 2023 and March 10th, 2023, a total of 23 patients (14 males, 9 females; mean age: 36.8±13.2 years; range, 17 to 64 years) who needed amputation with a MESS score of ≥7 and refused amputation were included in the study. All fasciotomies were performed in an external center, and five of them was incomplete. First, incomplete fasciotomies were completed with debridement due to deep muscle necrosis. Daily two HBOT sessions were performed for the first three days. In the following days, daily one HBOT session was performed. The HBOT was terminated for the patients who were decided by the council that they did not benefit from HBOT treatment.
Results: Six (26.08%) of the patients had a bone fracture (n=2 forearm, n=1 femur, n=2 tibia, and n=1 ankle fracture). The mean number of HBOT session was 13.24±5.4 (range, 7 to 30) and the mean duration of HBOT was 26.5±10.8 (range, 14 to 60) h. The mean MESS score was 9.96±1.36 (range, 7 to 12). All of the patients were trapped under the rubble with a mean time of 12.3±5.4 (range, 6 to 23) h. All fasciotomies were performed within the first 30 h. Twenty-two of the patients were amputated at the level previously determined by the experienced trauma surgeons. The amputation level changed in only one patient. After 38 h of HBOT, transradial amputation was performed to the patient in whom transhumeral amputation level was determined previously. None of the patients had any adverse event related to HBOT.
Conclusion: Our study results suggest that the MESS is a useful scoring system for amputation decision after a high-energy trauma, such as an earthquake, with a high accuracy rate. The outcomes of HBOT are not satisfactory for high-energy traumas, such as earthquakes, in those requiring fasciotomy having more muscle necrosis and a MESS score of ≥7.
High-energy traumas such as earthquakes are among the most difficult cases for trauma surgeons to manage. Multiple traumas occur with high-energy injuries and a multidisciplinary approach is required. Compartment syndrome may develop in a large number of patients after an earthquake. In such cases, fasciotomy may be needed. Also, amputation may be required after delayed compartment syndromes or crush injuries.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) was first described in the 1960s for the treatment of chronic wounds. It can reduce complications that may occur after orthopedic injuries and positively affect treatment results. In several studies, HBOT has been shown to have a positive effect on acute ischemic injury and increases bone, muscle, nerve and tendon healing in animal models.[2-4] It also suppresses post-traumatic edema and inflammation, reduces free radicals, and increases lymphatic drainage.[2,3] In addition, it increases angiogenesis and fibroblast function.[2,3] Exerting such effects, HBOT accelerates soft tissue healing. Although positive results have been reported in different centers in orthopedic trauma after HBOT treatment, further large-scale studies should be conducted.
In general, we need a scoring system, which can make it easier for us to decide whether to perform limb salvage or amputation after a high-energy trauma, such as an earthquake. The Mangled Extremity Severity Score (MESS) is a simple and effective scoring system for treatment decision (Table I). If the MESS score is 3-6, limb salvage is recommended, whereas if it is ≥7, amputation is recommended. In the literature, there are studies on the utilization of HBOT for limb salvage; however, the number of studies on HBOT for patients who require amputation is limited. Jirangkul et al. reported that HBOT reduced the risk of limb amputation. There are studies evaluating the effect of HBOT treatment in patients with a MESS score of ≥7, but there is no study evaluating the effect of HBOT in patients trapped under the rubble after the earthquake and undergoing fasciotomy.
|Low energy (stab; simple fracture; pistol gunshot wound)||1|
|Medium energy (open or multiple fractures, dislocation)||2|
|High energy (high speed motor vehicle accident or rifle gunshot wound)||3|
|Very high energy (high speed trauma + gross contamination)||4|
|Pulse reduced or absent but perfusion normal||1|
|Pulseless; paresthesias, diminished capillary refill||2*|
|Cool, paralyzed, insensate, numb||3*|
|Systolic blood pressure always >90 mmHg||0|
|* Score doubled for ischemia >6 hours.|
In the present study, we hypothesized that HBOT treatment could change the level of amputation in selected patients. We, therefore, aimed to evaluate the effect of HBOT on the amputation level in patients who underwent fasciotomy and had a MESS score of ≥7 after the 2023 Kahramanmaras earthquake.
Patients and Methods
This single-center, prospective study was conducted at Ankara Bilkent City Hospital, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery between February 6th, 2023 and March 10th, 2023. A total of 439 patients who applied to our center after the earthquake were evaluated. The MESS score of the patients was determined by three experienced trauma surgeons. A total of 41 patients with fasciotomy (9 upper, 32 lower extremity) and a MESS score of ≥7 were included in the study. All patients were informed about the necessity of amputation. Fourteen of 41 patients accepted limb amputation and they were amputated. The HBOT was planned to the patients who did not accept amputation. The patients treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) and patients with vascular pathology and contraindications for HBOT were not included in the study. Two patients who treated in the ICU and two patients with HBOT contraindications (claustrophobia and ear surgery history) were also excluded from the study. Four patients who were excluded from the study were amputated. Finally, 23 patients (14 males, 9 females; mean age: 36.78±13.23 years; range, 17 to 64 years) who needed amputation and refused amputation were included in the study. None of the patients had vascular pathologies. The HBOT was started as soon as possible after getting approval of Underwater Medicine, Nephrology, Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, and Orthopedics and Traumatology (Figure 1). Close follow-up was performed for complications such as sepsis and acute renal failure. Daily clinical (body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure), and laboratory follow-ups (complete blood count, leukocyte count, platelet count, creatinine, urine, bilirubin, lactate, procalcitonin, C-reactive protein) were performed. The amputation levels of the patients were determined, marked and recorded by the Hospital Council including cardiovascular surgeons, plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and nephrology and clinical microbiology and infectious diseases specialists. Demographic characteristics of the patients, MESS scores, bone fracture, number of HBOT, infection rate, and sessions were evaluated. Antibiotic treatment of all patients was prescribed by the Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases specialists. Antibiotic treatments were revised according to the culture results and laboratory values of the patients. Nine of the patients had positive culture results.
Twenty-three fasciotomies were performed in the center where patients were applied first (Figure 2). Five of them was incomplete. First, incomplete fasciotomies were completed. The reason for the completion of incomplete fasciotomies was the presence of excess necrosis and the ability to debride the necrosis in the deep muscles. Afterwards, debridement was performed according to the needs of each individual patient. In patients with major crush injury, there were more necrosis in the muscles. Therefore, the patients were treated with serial debridement, vacuum-assisted closure (VAC), vascular repair, and antibiotic treatment. All the patients had deep muscle necrosis and, therefore, we did not consider exclusion of patients whose fasciotomy was completed. The shoelace technique was applied for wound closure. The patients with large defects were grafted by plastic surgeons.
For the patients who did not accept amputation, HBOT was started in the first 48 h after admission. The HBOT protocol was developed by the Underwater Medicine Department. Daily two HBOT sessions were performed for the first three days. In the following days, daily one HBOT session was performed. In HBOT, the patients inhaled 100% oxygen with face mask at 2.5 ATA. Duration of the HBOT session was 120 min (60-min therapy, 5-min break, followed by 60-min therapy). HBOT therapy was terminated for the patients who were decided by the council that they did not benefit from HBOT treatment.
Statistical analysis was performed using the IBM SPSS version 22.0 software (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA). Due to the sample size being below 30, non-parametric test procedures were used. In this context, the Mann-Whitney U test, which is a nonparametric alternative to the independent samples t-test, was used to determine the relationships between parameters. The results were evaluated within 95% confidence intervals and p<0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Detailed data of the patients included in the study are given in Table II. Six (26.08%) of the patients had a bone fracture (n=2 forearm, n=1 femur, n=2 tibia, and n=1 ankle fracture).
|Patient number||Age/Sex||Under the rubble time (hour)||Bone fracture||Fasciotomy extremity||MESS score||HBOT (hour)||Amputation level before HBOT||Amputation level after HBOT|
|6||59/F||22||Femur||Lower||9||30||Hip disarticulation||Hip disarticulation|
|MESS: Mangled Extremity Severity Score; HBOT: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy.|
The mean number of HBOT session was 13.24±5.4 (range, 7 to 30) and the mean duration of HBOT was 26.48±10.8 (range, 14 to 60) h. The mean MESS score was 9.96±1.36 (range, 7 to 12) (Table III). All of the patients were trapped under the rubble with a mean time of 12.3±5.4 (range, 6 to 23) h. All fasciotomies were performed within the first 30 h. Four of the patients had upper extremity and 19 had lower extremity fasciotomies. The mean fasciotomy time was 19.7±4.73 (range, 10 to 29) h.
Before HBOT, amputation levels determined by the Hospital Council as follows: transfemoral (n=13), transtibial (n=5), hip disarticulation (n=1), transhumeral (n=3), and transradial (n=1). Twentytwo of the patients were amputated at the level previously determined by the experienced trauma surgeons (Figure 2). The amputation level changed in only one patient. After 38 h of HBOT, transradial amputation was performed to the patient in whom transhumeral amputation level was determined previously (Table IV). None of the patients had any adverse event related to HBOT.
|Amputation level||Before HBOT||After HBOT|
|HBOT: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy.|
In the current study, we evaluated the effect of HBOT in the patients who developed compartment syndrome after the 2023 Kahramanmaras earthquake, had a MESS score of ≥7, and required amputation. We initiated HBOT to prevent amputation or change the amputation level, as described previously in the literature. However, contrary to these studies, HBOT did not prevent amputation in any of our patients and changed the amputation level in only one patient, possibly as all patients were trapped under the rubble and had severe skin and muscle necrosis.
The MESS score is helpful to decide primary amputation. There are different studies in the literature evaluating the effectiveness of the MESS score. In patients with a MESS score of ≥7, amputation can be predicted with 100% accuracy, while in patients with a MESS score of 8, amputation can be predicted with 43.2% accuracy. With the developing orthopedic and reconstructive surgical techniques, limb salvage procedures can be performed more successfully in recent years. Although several studies have suggested that the scoring systems should be revisited, in the current study, all patients with an average MESS score of 9.96 were amputated. The MESS score predicted amputation with 100% accuracy in our study.
The HBOT is a treatment modality that has been used for the last five decades and it has become more widely used every year. It can be successfully performed in radiation injuries, osteomyelitis, and chronic wound treatment. In the current study, we performed HBOT to the patients who were scheduled to be amputated, but did not accept amputation. It was performed to 23 patients for a mean 26.48±10.8 h. The amputation level changed in only one patient. First, transhumeral amputation was planned; however, after HBOT, transradial amputation was performed in this case. In the literature, there is no study about the treatments applied to the patients who were decided to be amputated, but did not accept amputation. However, Jirangkul et al. applied limb salvage procedure to patients with a MESS score of ≥7 in their study combined with HBOT. They concluded that adjuvant HBOT was associated with a significantly lower risk of limb amputations. On the other hand, in the current study, the results of HBOT were not satisfactory for high-energy traumas with a MESS score of ≥7. The main reason for the discrepancy between the Jirangkul et al.’s study and our study is that the patients were exposed to high-energy trauma after the 2023 Kahramanmaras earthquake, were trapped under the rubble for a long time, and had more muscle necrosis. Compartment syndrome and multiple traumas which develop after high-energy traumas, such as earthquakes, are difficult to manage and require a multidisciplinary approach.[15,16]
Nevertheless, our study has several limitations. First, time to stay under the rubble is not exactly known for some patients. Second, fasciotomies were not performed by a single surgical team. Therefore, further large-scale, prospective randomized studies are needed to evaluate the effect of HBOT on the level of amputation.
In conclusion, the MESS is a useful scoring system for amputation decision after a high-energy trauma, such as an earthquake, with a high accuracy rate. The outcomes of HBOT are not satisfactory for high-energy traumas, such as earthquakes, in those requiring fasciotomy having more muscle necrosis, and a MESS score of ≥7.
Citation: Kilic E, Bingol O, Durgal A, Karlidag T, Keskin OH, Ozdemir G. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy does not change the amputation level in patients with fasciotomy after an earthquake: Our singlecenter experience after 2023 Kahramanmaras earthquake. Jt Dis Relat Surg 2023;34(2):516-522. doi: 10.52312/jdrs.2023.1104.
The study protocol was approved by the Ankara City Hospital Clinical Research Ethics Committee (date: 22.02.2023, no: E1-23-3334). The study was conducted in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki.
Idea/concept: E.K., G.O.; Design, control/supervision: G.O., O.B.; Data collection and/or processing: A.D., T.K., O.H.K.; Analysis and/or interpretation, references and fundings: E.K., T.K.; Literature review: E.K., A.D.; Writing the article: E.K., O.B., O.H.K.; Critical review: G.O., E.K., O.B.; Materials: E.K., T.K., A.D.; Other: T.K., O.H.K., A.D.
The authors declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article.
The authors received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.
A written informed consent was obtained from the parents and/or legal guardians of the patients.
The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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