Background: Closed reduction and internal fixation is the preferred initial treatment for young active patients who sustain a displaced intracapsular hip fracture. However, there is a paucity of information on the outcome in patients in whom this procedure fails and who subsequently require revision to a total hip arthroplasty. The purpose of this study was to compare a group of patients with a displaced intracapsular fracture who required early salvage total hip arthroplasty following failure of internal fixation within the first year after fracture with a group treated with primary total joint replacement for treatment of the same type of fracture.
Methods: With use of a matched-pairs case-control design, a group of 107 patients, between the ages of sixty and eighty years, who required an early salvage total hip arthroplasty with cement following failed reduction and internal fixation of a displaced intracapsular hip fracture (Group I) was compared with an age and gender-matched group of patients who had undergone total hip arthroplasty with cement as the primary procedure for the treatment of such a fracture (Group II).
Results: During the first year after the arthroplasty, there were fifty-two early complications in thirty-nine patients in Group I and twenty-two complications in fourteen patients in Group II (p < 0.05). There were significantly more superficial infections and dislocations in Group I (p < 0.05). The rate of revision beyond one year was greater and the overall prosthetic survival rate at both five and ten years postoperatively was significantly worse in Group I (log-rank test, p < 0.05). The functional outcomes at one year and at the time of final follow-up were also significantly worse in Group I.
Conclusions: Reduction and internal fixation will continue to be used as the primary treatment of displaced intracapsular fractures in many younger patients because of the benefits of preservation of the normal hip joint. However, patients should be counseled that if this method of treatment is unsuccessful and requires revision to a total hip arthroplasty with cement, the risk of early complications is higher and hip function may be poorer than if the arthroplasty had been performed as a primary procedure.