Intramedullary nails for stabilizing intertrochanteric proximal femoral fractures have been available since the early 1990s. The nails are inserted percutaneously and have theoretical mechanical advantages over plates and screws, but they have not been demonstrated to improve patient outcomes. Still, use of intramedullary nails is becoming more common. The goal of this study was to examine trends in the use and associated outcomes of intramedullary nailing compared with sliding hip screws in Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.Methods:
Review of the VA Surgical Quality Improvement Program (VASQIP) data identified 5244 male patients in whom an intertrochanteric proximal femoral fracture had been treated in a VA hospital between 1998 and 2005. The overall sample was used to assess trends in device use, thirty-day mortality, thirty-day surgical complications, and one-year mortality. Next, propensity score matching methods were used to compare 1013 patients identified as having been treated with an intramedullary nail with 1013 patients who had a sliding-screw procedure. Multiple logistic regression models for the matched sample were used to calculate odds ratios for mortality and complications according to the choice of internal fracture fixation.Results:
Use of intramedullary nails in VA facilities increased from 1998 through 2005 and varied by geographic region. Unadjusted mortality and complication percentages were similar for the two procedures, with approximately 8% of patients dying within thirty days after surgery, 28% dying within one year, and 19% having at least one perioperative complication. While the choice of an intramedullary nail or sliding-screw procedure was related to the geographic region, year of surgery, surgeon characteristics, and several patient characteristics, it was not associated with thirty-day outcomes in either the descriptive or the multiple regression analysis.Conclusions:
Intramedullary nail use increased from 1998 through 2005 but did not decrease perioperative mortality or comorbidity compared with standard plate-and-screw devices for patients treated for intertrochanteric proximal femoral fractures in VA facilities.Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.