Early weight bearing versus late weight bearing after intramedullary nailing for distal femoral fracture (AO/OTA 33) in elderly patients: A multicenter propensity-matched study

J Orthop Sci. 2022 Nov 25;S0949-2658(22)00312-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jos.2022.10.023. Online ahead of print.


Background: This study aimed to assess differences in implant failure and bone union rates, amount of change in alignment of lower extremities, and walking ability between early weight-bearing (EWB) and late weight-bearing (LWB) groups following retrograde intramedullary nailing (RIMN) for distal femoral fracture (AO/OTA 33) (DFF) at multiple centers using propensity score matching.

Methods: The data of 213 patients who underwent RIMN from 2012 to 2019 in multiple tertiary hospitals were extracted from our database. Cases with the following factors were excluded: age <60, open fracture, AO/OTA-type 33-C3 fracture, preoperative New Mobility Score (NMS) < 3, postoperative follow-up <3 months, and unknown weight-bearing start time. Eighty-four patients were divided into the EWB and LWB groups. EWB group patients were encouraged to perform partial weight-bearing walking at ≤4 weeks after surgery. LWB group patients were not allowed weight bearing for >4 weeks after surgery. After propensity score matching was applied, 26 cases remained in each group.

Results: There were no cases of nail failure in either the EWB group or LWB group (P = 1). Screw failure occurred in 0 cases in the EWB group and in 1 case (4.5%) in the LWB group (P = 1.0). Non-union occurred in 5 patients (19.2%) in the EWB group and 4 patients (15.3%) in the LWB group (P = 1). The mean amount of change in lower extremities alignment did not differ between the two groups. The median Knee Society Score was 95.5 (59-100) vs. 93 (72-100) points (P = 0.39). The median NMS was 7 (0-9) vs. 7 (4-9) points (P = 0.82).

Conclusions: There were no significant intergroup differences in the rates of implant failure, bone union at one year after surgery, amount of change in lower extremities alignment, or walking ability. We suggest that early weight bearing after RIMN for DFF may not be harmful in elderly people.

Keywords: Distal femoral fracture; Multicenter; Weight bearing.