Risk of bony violation with standard triple screw configurations for fixation of femoral neck fractures: A preliminary computed tomography based analysis

J Clin Orthop Trauma. 2020 Jul;11(Suppl 4):S546-S552. doi: 10.1016/j.jcot.2020.04.027. Epub 2020 May 5.


Purpose: The reduction and fixation of femoral neck fractures is mainly an indirect one with intraoperative fluoroscopy being trusted for the safe containment of screws within the bony limits of the femoral neck. Radiologically undetected bony perforations may have an impact on the fracture stability and radiological outcomes that have not been studied previously. The purpose of this computed tomography (CT) based study is to analyze the safety of containment of triple screw configurations using standard 6.5 mm diameter screws for fixation of femoral neck fractures in the Indian population using a software-based analysis.

Methods: Data from consecutive CT scans with intact proximal femur performed over a six month period were retrospectively analyzed using iPlan® BrainLab AG, Feldkirchen, Germany. The safe containment of virtual screw trajectories placed in inverted triangular and non-inverted triangular configurations for a 6.5 mm diameter screw was analyzed in intact femoral necks.

Results: A total of 72 cases were considered for the final assessment. For 6.5 mm screws, the proportion for safe containment (without bony violation) of triple screw inverted triangular configuration was 75% with additional safety corridor to 1 mm around the screw trajectories and 31.94% for non-inverted triangular configuration. All male cases and 28% of female cases allowed safe placement of three 6.5 mm screw trajectories in an inverted triangular pattern with a safety margin of 1 mm around the screw. Replacement of one of the two superior 6.5 mm diameter screw trajectories with a 4.5 mm diameter trajectory resulted in 100% safe containment in female cases.

Conclusion: Inverted triangular configuration is a relatively safer configuration compared to the non-inverted triangular configuration. Standard triple 6.5 mm screws for fixation of femoral neck fractures carry a risk of bony violation, especially in females. A preoperative radiographic assessment to screen the cases with narrow vertical and anteroposterior extents of the femoral neck can help in reducing the risk of fluoroscopically undetected violation of the bony margins. Replacement of one of the two superior screws with a 4.5 mm diameter screw can be helpful in such cases.

Keywords: Femoral neck fractures; Femoral neck morphology; Screw fixation; Screw safety.