Healing results of periprosthetic distal femur fractures treated with far cortical locking technology: a preliminary retrospective study

Zachary Ries, Kirk Hansen, Michael Bottlang, Steven Madey, Daniel Fitzpatrick, J L Marsh
Iowa Orthopaedic Journal 2013, 33: 7-11

INTRODUCTION: Periprosthetic distal femur fractures are severe injuries occurring in the often osteoporotic bone of the elderly. Far cortical locking (FCL) screws, which have been shown to promote increased callus formation in animal models, have recently become available for clinical use. The purpose of this study is to report preliminary healing and complication rates of periprosthetic distal femur fractures treated with FCL constructs.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective review of 20 patients who underwent open reduction and internal fixation of periprosthetic distal femur fractures using FCL constructs was performed. Healing was assessed radiographically and clinically at 6, 12 and 24 weeks post-operatively. Construct failure was defined as any hardware breakage or bone-implant dissociation leading to loss of reduction.

RESULTS: Complete data through the 24 week study period was available for 18/20 patients. Bridging callus was identified in 16/18 patients by the 24 week follow up for a healing rate of 88.9%. In patients that healed, the average time to medial bridging callus formation was 10.7 ± 6.7 weeks, 11.0 ± 6.6 weeks for anterior fracture line and 13.4 ± 7.5 weeks for the posterior fracture line. both patients that failed to heal underwent revision surgery.

DISCUSSION: The initial results of this study are comparable to results reported for distal femur periprosthetic fractures treated with locking plate fixation without FCL screws, although it was difficult to compare time to healing between previously published studies. It is the impression of the authors that callus appears earlier and is more robust and uniform between the three cortices in FCL cases compared to their previous experiences with traditional locking plate periprosthetic distal femur fractures. This work suggests that FCL screws may be superior to traditional locking constructs but further studies are needed to directly compare the two methods.

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