We have studied prospectively the effect of indomethacin on the development of heterotopic ossification (HO) after the internal fixation of acetabular fractures. After operation 107 patients randomly received either a six-week course of indomethacin or no treatment against HO. Plain radiographs of 101 patients at a mean of 7.9 months after surgery showed HO in 47.4% of the 57 patients who received indomethacin and in 56.8% of the 44 who did not. This difference was not statistically significant. Heterotopic ossification of Brooker class II or more was seen in four patients (7%) with prophylaxis and in one without (p = 0.51).
Measurements of the volume of HO on 3-D CT reconstructions showed a median value of 1.5 cm3 in patients with indomethacin and 4.0 cm3 in those without (p = 0.28). When only the 57 patients in whom the operation was carried out through either a Kocher-Langenbeck or an extended iliofemoral approach were included the indomethacin group showed a median volume of 1.7 cm3 compared with 3.6 cm3. On plain radiographs Brooker class II or above was seen in 9.4% of the patients receiving indomethacin and in 4.8% of those who did not.
Indomethacin was therefore not effective in preventing ectopic bone formation after surgery for acetabular fractures. There was a significant association of male gender with volume of HO using a non-parametric analysis of variance.
- Received May 3, 1996.
- Accepted July 3, 1997.
- © 1997 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery