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Papers of the Week

2021 Apr 21

J Foot Ankle Surg

Computer-Controlled Cooling in Operatively Treated Ankle or Hindfoot Fractures: A Retrospective Case-Control Study.


De Boer SA, Van Lieshout EMM, Van Moolenbroek G, Verhofstad MHJ, Den Hartog D
J Foot Ankle Surg. 2021 Apr 21.
PMID: 34039509.


Ankle and hindfoot fractures are often associated with a considerable amount of pain and need for systemic analgesics. Cooling devices have been developed to reduce swelling, pain, analgesics need, and complications. The primary aim was to examine the effect of cooling versus no cooling on pain levels in adult patients treated operatively for an ankle or hindfoot fracture. Secondary aims were to assess the effect of cooling on (1) analgesics use, (2) patient satisfaction, (3) hospital length of stay (HLOS), (4) the rate of complications, and (5) the rate of secondary interventions. In this single center, retrospective case-control study patients who used a computer-controlled cooling device before and after surgery of an ankle or hindfoot fracture between January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2017 were included. Matched patients without using cooling served as control. Patient, injury and treatment characteristics, pain scores and analgesics use during hospital admission were extracted from patient's medical files. Pain scores in the cooling group (18 patients) did not statistically differ from the non-cooling group (17 patients). After surgery, less patients in the cooling group used paracetamol (p = .041), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (p = .006). Patient satisfaction of both groups was eight out of ten points. The total HLOS was 14 days (P-P 9.0-17.3) in the cooling group and 9 days (P-P 5.0-16.5) in the non-cooling group. This was mostly contributable to the difference in preoperative HLOS (8 days; P-P 4.8-13.0 versus 4 days; P-P 2.0-7.0) and time to surgery (13.5 days; P-P 9.3-16.3) versus 8 days; P-P 2.5-12.0). Complications and revision surgery did not differ. Patients with ankle or hindfoot fractures seem to benefit from computer-controlled cooling, since equal pain sensation is feasible with less analgesics postoperatively, whereas rates of complications and revision surgeries were comparable in both groups. Patients were highly satisfied with cooling.