Objectives: To evaluate the efficiency of a solid femoral nail and interlocking spiral-blade, inserted without reaming (UFN/ spiral blade, Synthes-Stratec, Oberdorf, Switzerland), for the fixation of pathologic and impending pathologic fractures of the proximal femur, particularly those involving the subtrochanteric area.
Design: Retrospective, consecutive series.
Setting and patients: All patients treated for pathologic and impending pathologic fractures of the trochanteric or subtrochanteric area, stabilized using a UFN/spiral blade, inserted without reaming, from June 1994 to June 1997.
Intervention: Femoral intramedullary nailing was performed without reaming on a radiolucent operating room table. The nail was inserted through a five-centimeter supratrochanteric approach, and the interlocking spiral-blade device was introduced percutaneously.
Methods: The following parameters were assessed: pathology reports, location of bone lesions, patient survival, pain relief, ambulation, hardware failure on successive radiographs, and intraoperative complications.
Results: Twelve pathologic and impending pathologic fractures were stabilized in ten patients. Two patients required bilateral nailing that was staged with intervals of two and three weeks, respectively. The average postsurgical survival was six and one-half months. No implant failure was noted, and no surgical revision was performed. One intraoperative death occurred during surgery and was documented on autopsy as massive pulmonary fat embolization. Neither patient with bilateral nailing suffered from fat embolism syndrome.
Conclusions: Femoral nail insertion without reaming using an interlocking spiral blade provides appropriate stabilization of the proximal femur in case of metastatic lesions, even with extensive subtrochanteric involvement. Although the nails were inserted without reaming, this did not avoid the risk of fat embolization syndrome. This study only addressed results in patients with short-term survival.