Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of retrograde nailing to treat patients with bilateral femur fractures.
Design and setting: A retrospective review of prospectively obtained trauma databases was completed at 9 Level 1 trauma centers.
Patients: In all, 3767 patients with femur fractures were identified. Of those, 89 (46 males, 43 females) had bilateral femur fractures treated with reamed, retrograde intramedullary nails within 48 hours after injury. The charts were reviewed for pertinent data.
Results: The average cohort age was 30 years (16-63 years). The average Injury Severity Score was 21 (9-50). Eighty-five patients (96%) had associated injuries. Thirteen patients (14.6%) developed adult respiratory distress syndrome; 8 had thoracic injuries. There were 4 patients (4%) with fat embolism syndrome, 2 were delayed longer than 24 hours to the operating room. There were 5 deaths (5.6% mortality) in the retrograde nailing group. Thoracic injury was found to be associated with death rate (P < 0.07).
Conclusions: Bilateral femur fractures are indicative of severe injuries with mortality rates as high as 40%. There are no specific studies addressing the outcomes of bilateral femur fractures treated with retrograde nailing. In this largest retrospective study to date, the overall death rate of 5.6% was significantly lower than historical controls. The effect of timing and duration of surgery and other injuries is not completely known. In conclusion, retrograde nailing of bilateral femur fractures is an acceptable treatment for bilateral femur fractures.