INTRODUCTION: Although a large number of previous studies have investigated the outcome in patients following tibial shaft fractures, the literature provides limited information on prospectively reported patients with mid- to long-term follow-up. The present study aimed to investigate prospectively the 5-year development in patient-reported quality of life after intramedullary nailing of a tibial shaft fracture.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The design was a prospective, 5-year follow-up cohort study. Quality of life (QOL) was measured with the questionnaire Eq5d-5L and compared to the 1-year outcome reported by the same patients. Secondary outcome measurements were the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS), recordings of pain, gait and muscle strength.
RESULTS: Twenty-nine patients were eligible for participation. Mean patient age at the time of the 5-year follow-up was 46.3 years. The 5-year postoperative mean Eq5d-5L index was 0.864 (95% CI 0.809-0.918). The mean Eq5d-5L VAS was 88.4 (95% CI 83.4-93.5). Compared with the same patients' Eq5d-5L index scores at the 1-year follow-up (0.784), a significant increase was observed (P = 0.014). A comparison to the Danish Eq.5D reference population showed no statistically significant difference.
CONCLUSIONS: Patient-reported quality of life among patients treated with intramedullary nailing following a tibial shaft fracture increased significantly between the 1-year and 5-year follow-up. In contrast to the 1-year patient-reported quality of life, results are comparable to those of a reference population at the 5-year follow-up. In a clinical setting, these results highlight that patients may expect a prolonged period to recover. However, of most importance is that patients can expect a satisfactory outcome years after fracture and treatment.