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Trochanteric-Entry Long Cephalomedullary Nailing of Subtrochanteric Fractures Caused by Low-Energy Trauma
C. Michael Robinson, BMedSci, FRCS Ed(Orth)1; S. Houshian, MD1; L.A.K. Khan, BSc, MRCSEd1
1 Edinburgh Orthopaedic Trauma Unit, The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France, Old Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh EH16 4SU, United Kingdom. E-mail address for C.M. Robinson: c.mike.robinson@ed.ac.uk
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The authors did not receive grants or outside funding in support of their research or preparation of this manuscript. They did not receive payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, educational institution, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors are affiliated or associated.
Investigation performed at the Edinburgh Orthopaedic Trauma Unit, The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2005 Oct 01;87(10):2217-2226. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.D.02898
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Background: Subtrochanteric fractures of the femur that are caused by low-energy trauma are less common than other proximal femoral fractures, but they occur in a similar population of elderly individuals, who are often socially dependent and medically frail. Although a wide range of operative techniques have been used, cephalomedullary nailing theoretically provides the most minimally invasive and biomechanically stable means of treating these complex fractures. The purpose of the present review was to evaluate the functional outcome and perioperative complications associated with the use of a trochanteric-entry cephalomedullary nail to treat all low-energy subtrochanteric fractures that were seen at a single institution.

Methods: Over an eight-year period, we used the long Gamma nail to treat a consecutive series of 302 local patients who had sustained a subtrochanteric fracture during low-energy trauma. The mortality, prevalence of complications, and functional outcome were prospectively assessed during the first year after the injury. Survival analysis was used to assess the rates of reoperation and implant revision during the first year after surgery.

Results: At one year, seventy-four (24.5%) of the original 302 patients had died and seventeen (5.6%) had been lost to follow-up. The remaining 211 patients (69.9%) were evaluated with regard to the functional outcome and postoperative complications during the first year after the injury. As with other proximal femoral fractures in the elderly, there was an increased level of social dependence, an increase in the use of walking aids, and a reduction in mobility among survivors. Although eighty-eight (41.7%) of the 211 patients who were evaluated at one year after the injury had some degree of hip discomfort, only two described the pain as severe and disabling. Reoperation for the treatment of implant or fracture-related complications was required in twenty-seven (8.9%) of the 302 patients; however, only eighteen of these patients required nail revision, corresponding with a one-year nail-revision rate of 7.1% (95% confidence interval, 4.0% to 10.2%) on survival analysis. Of the 250 patients who survived for six months after the injury, five (2%) had a nonunion that was confirmed at the time of surgical exploration. Complications related to the proximal lag screw were seen in twelve of the original 302 patients, and a fracture distal to the tip of the nail occurred in five. Although superficial wound infection was relatively common, deep infection occurred in only five of the 302 patients.

Conclusions: Subtrochanteric fractures caused by low-energy trauma are similar to other proximal femoral fractures, with a high mortality rate during the first year after the injury. Trochanteric-entry cephalomedullary nails are associated with an acceptable rate of perioperative complications and favorable functional outcomes.

Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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