Unipolar hemiarthroplasty versus bipolar hemiarthroplasty in patients with displaced femoral neck fractures: a four-year follow-up of a randomised controlled trial

Christian Inngul, Carl-Johan Hedbeck, Richard Blomfeldt, Gunilla Lapidus, Sari Ponzer, Anders Enocson
International Orthopaedics 2013, 37 (12): 2457-64

PURPOSE: The treatment of choice for a displaced femoral neck fracture in the most elderly patients is a cemented hemiarthroplasty (HA). The optimal design, unipolar or bipolar head, remains unclear. The possible advantages of a bipolar HA are a better range of motion and less acetabular wear. The aim of this study was to evaluate hip function, health related quality of life (HRQoL), surgical outcome and acetabular erosion in a medium-term follow-up.

METHODS: One hundred and twenty patients aged 80 or more with a displaced fracture of the femoral neck (Garden III and IV) were randomised to treatment with a cemented Exeter HA using a unipolar or a bipolar head. All patients were able to walk independently, with or without aids, before surgery. Follow-ups were performed at four, 12, 24 and 48 months postoperatively. Assessments included HRQoL (EQ-5D index score), hip function (Harris hip score [HHS]) and radiological acetabular erosion.

RESULTS: The mean EQ-5D index score was generally higher among the patients with bipolar hemiarthroplasties at the follow-ups with a significant difference at 48 months: unipolar HAs 0.59 and bipolar HAs 0.70 (p = 0.04). There was an increased rate of acetabular erosion among the patients with unipolar hemiarthroplasties at the early follow-ups with a significant difference at 12 months (unipolar HAs 20% and bipolar HAs 5%, p = 0.03). At the later follow-ups the incidence of acetabular erosion accelerated in the bipolar group, and there were no significant differences between the groups at the 24- and 48-month follow-ups. There was no difference in HHS or reoperation rate between the groups at any of the follow-ups.

CONCLUSION: The bipolar HAs seem to result in better HRQoL beyond the first two years after surgery compared to unipolar HAs. Bipolar HAs displayed a later onset of acetabular erosion compared to unipolar HAs.

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