Nonunion of fractures of the subtrochanteric region of the femur

George J Haidukewych, Daniel J Berry
Clinical Orthopaedics and related Research 2004, (419): 185-8
There are no large clinical series to guide the clinician treating a subtrochanteric nonunion. Deformity, bone loss from previous hardware, and the high stresses in the subtrochanteric region all pose challenges to achieving successful bony union with reoperation. The purpose of this study was to retrospectively review a consecutive series of patients treated with reoperation using contemporary techniques for subtrochanteric nonunion. Between 1992 and 2002, 23 patients with a mean age of 55 years (range, 16-88 years) with 23 subtrochanteric nonunions were treated with additional attempts to achieve union. Two patients were lost to followup. The remaining 21 patients were followed up for a mean of 12 months (range, 6-39 months). Implants used for revision internal fixation were as follows: eight patients were treated with a cephalomedullary nail, seven patients were treated with a standard antegrade femoral nail, five patients were treated with a 95 degree angled blade plate, one patient was treated with a sliding hip screw, one patient was treated with a 95 degree dynamic condylar screw, and one patient was treated with dual large fragment plates. Eighteen of 23 patients had bone grafting: eight had autograft, six had allograft, and both were used in three patients. One patient had free vascularized fibular transfer. Twenty of 21 nonunions healed (95%). At last followup, all patients with healed fractures had no or minimal pain. All were ambulatory. There were no intraoperative complications. There was one postoperative complication (4%), an adynamic ileus that was treated medically. Revision internal fixation and selected bone grafting for subtrochanteric nonunion led to a high rate of fracture union and functional improvement. Intramedullary devices with fixation into the femoral head and neck and fixed angled devices were effective in achieving stable fixation of the proximal bony fragment.

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