Surgical techniques: how I do it? The Reamer/Irrigator/Aspirator (RIA) system

P V Giannoudis, C Tzioupis, J Green
Injury 2009, 40 (11): 1231-6
Although reamed intramedullary nailing has long been considered a safe procedure, pulmonary complications have been reported in some groups of patients. Concerns over fat embolisation, adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and sudden intraoperative death have prompted some authors to question whether the benefits of reaming are outweighed by its potential adverse effects to the patient. In response to these complications, recent evaluations have focused on alternative systems that reduce intramedullary pressure during reaming. The Reamer/Irrigator/Aspirator (RIA) system (Synthes, Inc., West Chester, PA) was developed as a simultaneous reaming and aspiration system to reduce the intramedullary pressure, heat generation, operating time, and systemic effects of reaming. It was designed with an aggressive one-pass reamer head which is connected to a hand-held reamer via a drive shaft, simultaneously irrigating and aspirating femoral canal contents during reaming, thus preventing thermal necrosis and fat embolisation. After its early use, investigators examined the "aspirate" captured by the RIA which appeared to be loaded with osteogenic substrates. This discovery revealed a second potential use for the RIA-a bone graft harvester. The different design characteristics and technicalities of the RIA system necessitate a deep and clear understanding of its technique, a meticulous preoperative planning and a strict adherence to its principles intraoperatively. We present our current approach to the use of the RIA system, including the preoperative planning, the details of the operative procedure, the pitfalls and the potential complications that could be encountered.

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