Background: Failed treatment of an intertrochanteric fracture typically leads to profound functional disability and pain. Treatment with repeated attempts to gain union and to preserve the host femoral head usually is preferred for young patients, but salvage treatment with hip arthroplasty may be considered for selected older patients with poor bone quality, bone loss, or articular cartilage damage. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the results and complications of hip arthroplasty performed as a salvage procedure after the failed treatment of an intertrochanteric hip fracture.
Methods: Between 1985 and 1997, sixty patients (forty-nine women and eleven men) with a mean age of seventy-eight years were treated at our institution with hip arthroplasty after the failed treatment of an intertrochanteric fracture. Thirty-two patients had a total hip arthroplasty with a cemented cup (twenty-four patients) or an uncemented cup (eight patients), twenty-seven had a bipolar hemiarthroplasty, and one had a unipolar hemiarthroplasty. A calcar-replacement design, extended-neck stem, or long-stem implant was used in fifty-one of the sixty hips.
Results: Ten patients died within two years (all with the implant intact), and six were lost to follow-up. The remaining forty-four patients were followed for a mean of five years (range, two to fifteen years). At the time of the last follow-up, thirty-nine patients had no or mild pain and five had moderate or severe pain; in all of these patients, the pain was in the region of the greater trochanter. Forty patients were able to walk, twenty-six with one-arm support or less. Twelve patients had a total of thirteen medical complications postoperatively. A total of five reoperations were performed: two patients had a revision, one had a rewiring procedure because of trochanteric avulsion, one had late removal of trochanteric hardware, and one had débridement of fat necrosis. One patient had two dislocations, both of which were treated with closed reduction. Kaplan-Meier survivorship analysis with revision of the implant for any reason as the end point revealed a survival rate of 100% at seven years and 87.5% (95% confidence interval, 67.3% to 100%) at ten years.
Conclusions: Hip arthroplasty is an effective salvage procedure after the failed treatment of an intertrochanteric fracture in an older patient. Most patients have good pain relief and functional improvement. Calcar-replacement and long-stem implants often are required. Despite the operative challenges, surprisingly few serious orthopaedic complications were associated with this procedure in the present study.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level IV (case series [no, or historical, control group]). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.