Eighteen patients with Gustilo and Anderson Grade III A (7), III B (8) or III C (3) open diaphyseal forearm fractures were treated with a protocol consisting of extensive primary debridement, immediate open reduction, dynamic compression plate fixation, and vascular repair when indicated. This was followed by routine redebridement at 24 to 48-h intervals until wound status allowed completion of soft tissue reconstruction. Bone grafting was performed at 8 to 10 weeks following obtainment of a closed soft tissue envelope for injuries with extensive comminution or bone loss (5 patients, 7 fractures). Subsequent procedures such as tendon transfers, scar revision, joint arthrodesis, or secondary nerve reconstruction were required in 8 of 18 patients. Minor complications related to delayed wound healing occurred in 3 individuals (15%). One deep infection of a fractured radius occurred in a patient with a floating elbow and failed free flap. Salvage with debridement, retention of hardware, and a second free flap resulted in fracture union. One patient required a second bone graft to obtain union of a segmental forearm defect. Amputation was performed in one patient following failed forearm replantation with greater than 8 h warm ischemia time. Immediate debridement and plate fixation of Grade III forearm fractures performed in conjunction with aggressive soft tissue management provided good or excellent results in 12 patients (66%) and is an acceptable treatment alternative in these difficult injuries.

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