Treatment strategies for intramedullary nailing of femoral shaft fractures

Orthopedics. 2010 Oct 11;33(10):726. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20100826-15.


Intramedullary nailing has become the gold standard to treat femoral shaft fractures. It is unknown which nailing technique orthopedic surgeons prefer. The goal of this study was to determine current techniques and perioperative complications of intramedullary nailing of diaphyseal femoral fractures. Fifty-one institutions in 26 countries participated in an international survey to assess detailed descriptions of preferred operative strategies and perioperative complications. Altogether, 517 cases of diaphyseal femoral fractures were collected. The Internet-based survey incorporated information about fracture classification, time to operation, Injury Severity Score, type of nail, and operative technique, as well as perioperative complications such as infection, femoral neck fracture, and hardware failure. The preferred position for implantation was supine (91.1%). Most surgeons used a traction table (57.1%) and an antegrade implantation technique (84.5%). Intraoperative fractures of the femoral neck occurred in 1.2% of cases when a traction table was used and in 0.2% if no traction table was used, but without statistical significance (P>.16). In 59.2% of the cases, an isolated femur fracture was present, while the rest sustained multiple injuries. In polytrauma patients and patients with severe thorax injuries, most surgeons chose a delayed treatment with intramedullary femoral nails. Interestingly, 38.0% of the patients with severe thorax injuries were treated on the first day with intramedullary femoral nails. The total rate of complications for intramedullary femoral nailing was low (4.9%), but a high rate of intraoperative femoral neck fractures was observed (1.4%).

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Nails*
  • Femoral Fractures / surgery*
  • Femoral Neck Fractures / epidemiology
  • Femoral Neck Fractures / etiology
  • Fracture Fixation, Intramedullary / adverse effects
  • Fracture Fixation, Intramedullary / instrumentation
  • Fracture Fixation, Intramedullary / methods*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Intraoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Young Adult