DOES INDOMETHACIN REDUCE HETEROTOPIC BONE FORMATION AFTER OPERATIONS FOR ACETABULAR FRACTURES?

A PROSPECTIVE RANDOMISED STUDY

J. M. Matta, K. A. Siebenrock

Abstract

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.