Center for Orthopaedics, Trauma Surgery and Spinal Cord Injury, Ultrasound Center, HTRG - Heidelberg Trauma Research Group, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]
The pre-operative determination of infection plays a decisive role in non-union treatment. This study investigated in a large cohort the diagnostic potential of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) as stand-alone method for the differentiation between aseptic and infected non-unions. Of 109 patients with lower extremity non-unions (tibia n = 78, femur n = 31) osseous perfusion with CEUS was prospectively assessed before revision surgery. The perfusion was quantified via time-intensity curves and peak enhancement (PE) (arbitrary unit [au]). Significant perfusion differences between aseptic and infected non-unions were evident (PE, p < 0.001). The sensitivity and specificity for the detection of infected tibial and femoral non-unions could be determined with 85.1% and 88.7% (cutoff PE: 81.2 au). CEUS illustrates tibial and femoral non-union perfusion in real time and discriminates reliably between aseptic and infected non-unions. Consequently, when CEUS is integrated into the diagnostic routine algorithm, non-union revision surgery can be planned more accurately as a single or multistep procedure.