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1.  Achieving locked intramedullary fixation of long bone fractures: technology for the developing world 
International Orthopaedics  2012;36(10):2007-2013.
Eighty per cent of severe fractures occur in developing countries. Long bone fractures are treated by conservative methods if proper implants, intraoperative imaging and consistent electricity are lacking. These conservative treatments often result in lifelong disability. Locked intramedullary nailing is the standard of care for long bone fractures in the developed world. The Surgical Implant Generation Network (SIGN) has developed technology that allows all orthopaedic surgeons to treat fracture patients with locked intramedullary nailing without the need for image intensifiers, fracture tables or power reaming. Introduced in 1999, SIGN nails have been used to treat more than 100,000 patients in over 55 developing world countries. SIGN instruments and implants are donated to hospitals with the stipulation that they will be used to treat the poor at no cost. Studies have shown that patients return to function more rapidly, hospital stays are reduced, infection rates are low and clinical outcomes excellent. Cost-effectiveness analysis has confirmed that the system not only provides better outcomes, but does so at a reduced cost. SIGN continues to develop new technologies, in an effort to transform lives and bring equality in fracture care to the poorest of regions.
PMCID: PMC3460075  PMID: 22847118
2.  Antimicrobial Particulate Silver Coatings on Stainless Steel Implants for Fracture Management 
We have used particulate silver coating on stainless steel to prevent in vivo bacterial infection. Stainless steel is commonly used as an implant material for fracture management. The antimicrobial use of silver has been well documented and studied, therefore the novelty of this research is the use of a particulate coating as well as facing the real world challenges of a fracture repair implant. The variable parameters for applying the coating were time of deposition, silver solution concentration, voltage applied, heat treatment temperature between 400 to 500 °C and time. The resultant coating is shown to be non-toxic to human osteoblasts using an MTT assay for proliferation and SEM images for morphology. In vitro silver release studies of various treatments were done using simulated body fluid. The bactericidal effects were tested by challenging the coatings with P. aeruginosa in a bioreactor and compared against uncoated stainless steel. A 13-fold reduction in bacteria was observed at 24 hours and proved to be statistically significant.
PMCID: PMC3375829  PMID: 22711980
Silver; Antimicrobial; Stainless Steel Implants; Fracture Management
3.  Risk Factors for Infection after 46,113 Intramedullary Nail Operations in Low- and Middle-income Countries 
World Journal of Surgery  2012;37(2):349-355.
The fields of surgery and trauma care have largely been neglected in the global health discussion. As a result the idea that surgery is not safe or cost effective in resource-limited settings has gone unchallenged. The SIGN Online Surgical Database (SOSD) is now one of the largest databases on trauma surgery in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). We wished to examine infection rates and risk factors for infection after IM nail operations in LMIC using this data.
The SOSD contained 46,722 IM nail surgeries in 58 different LMIC; 46,113 IM nail operations were included for analysis.
The overall follow-up rate was 23.1 %. The overall infection rate was 1.0 %, 0.7 % for humerus, 0.8 % for femur, and 1.5 % for tibia fractures. If only nails with registered follow-up (n = 10,684) were included in analyses, infection rates were 2.9 % for humerus, 3.2 % for femur, and 6.9 % for tibia fractures. Prophylactic antibiotics reduced the risk of infection by 29 %. Operations for non-union had a doubled risk of infection. Risk of infection was reduced with increasing income level of the country.
The overall infection rates were low, and well within acceptable levels, suggesting that it is safe to do IM nailing in low-income countries. The fact that operations for non-union have twice the risk of infection compared to primary fracture surgery further supports the use of IM nailing as the primary treatment for femur fractures in LMIC.
PMCID: PMC3553402  PMID: 23052810
4.  Low infection rates after 34,361 intramedullary nail operations in 55 low- and middle-income countries 
Acta Orthopaedica  2011;82(6):737-743.
The Surgical Implant Generation Network (SIGN) supplies intramedullary (IM) nails for the treatment of long bone fractures free of charge to hospitals in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Most operations are reported to the SIGN Online Surgical Database (SOSD). Follow-up has been reported to be low, however. We wanted to examine the pattern of follow-up and to assess whether infection rates could be trusted.
Patients and methods
The SOSD contained 36,454 IM nail surgeries in 55 LMICs. We excluded humerus and hip fractures, and fractures without a registered surgical approach. This left 34,361 IM nails for analysis. A generalized additive regression model (gam) was used to explore the association between follow-up rates and infection rates.
The overall follow-up rate in the SOSD was 18.1% (95% CI: 17.7–18.5) and national follow-up rates ranged from 0% to 74.2%. The overall infection rate was 0.7% (CI: 0.6–0.8) for femoral fractures and 1.2% (CI: 1.0–1.4) for tibial fractures. If only nails with a registered follow-up visit were included (n = 6,224), infection rates were 3.5% (CI: 3.0–4.1) for femoral fractures and 7.3% (CI: 6.2–8.4) for tibial fractures. We found an increase in infection rates with increasing follow-up rates up to a level of 5%. Follow-up above 5% did not result in increased infection rates.
Reported infection rates after IM nailing in the SOSD appear to be reliable and could be used for further research. The low infection rates suggest that IM nailing is a safe procedure also in low- and middle-income countries.
PMCID: PMC3247895  PMID: 22066554
5.  The Role of SIGN in the Development of a Global Orthopaedic Trauma Database 
The global burden of injury is receiving recognition as a major public health problem but inadequate information delays many proposed solutions. Many attempts to collect reliable data on orthopaedic trauma have been unsuccessful. The Surgical Implant Generation Network (SIGN) database is one of the largest collections of fracture cases from lower and middle income countries.
We describe the information in the SIGN database then address two questions: In the context of the design and implementation of a global trauma database, what lessons does the SIGN database teach? Does the SIGN program have a role in the evolution of a wider global system?
The SIGN database is Internet based. After treating a patient with a SIGN nail surgeons enter radiographs and details of the case.
Over 26000 cases are in the SIGN database. The database has been used as a source of cases for followup studies. Analysis shows the data are of sufficient quality to allow studies of fracture patterns but not for outcome studies or bone measurement.
Where do we need to go?
A global database with more comprehensive coverage of injuries, causes, treatment modalities and outcomes is needed.
How do we get there?
The SIGN database itself will not become a global trauma database (GTD) but the personnel of the SIGN program have much to offer in the design and adoption of a GTD. Studies of suitable methods of data collection and the incentive to use them are required.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11999-010-1442-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3248674  PMID: 20593255
6.  Injuries in Developing Countries—How Can We Help?: The Role of Orthopaedic Surgeons 
Each year nearly 5 million people worldwide die from injuries, approximately the number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Ninety percent of these injuries occur in developing countries and that number is growing. Road traffic accidents account for 1.2 million of these 5 million deaths. For each death from trauma, three to eight more are permanently disabled. Orthopaedic surgeons should consider the victims of this epidemic by using their ability and capacity to treat these injuries. SIGN (Surgical Implant Generation Network, Richland, WA, USA) builds local surgical capability in developing countries by providing training and equipment to surgeons for use in treating the poor. It assists in treating long-bone fractures by using an intramedullary nail interlocking screw system. C-arm imaging, unavailable in many of these hospitals, is not necessary to accomplish interlocking. Surgery is performed primarily by local surgeons who record their cases on the SIGN surgical database. Discussion of these reports provides a means of communication and education among surgeons. This database demonstrates the capability of these surgeons. It also demonstrates that the SIGN intramedullary nail is safe for use in the developing world as it has been successful in treating 36,000 trauma patients.
PMCID: PMC2584284  PMID: 18685912

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