External fixation of complex femoral shaft fractures

Zlowodzki, M.; Prakash, J.; Aggarwal, N.
June 2007
International Orthopaedics;Jun2007, Vol. 31 Issue 3, p409
Academic Journal
Conversion of temporary external fixation to an intramedullary nail within the first 2 weeks after a femoral shaft fracture is standard practice. However, due to financial constraints, in large parts of the world external fixation of femoral shaft fractures is often the definitive treatment. Out of 60 fractures, 47 were followed-up for a minimum period of 39 weeks. The average follow-up time was 75 weeks. Fourteen fractures were closed, and 33 open. Forty-four fractures united at an average of 31 weeks. There were four non-unions, three of them infected. Secondary surgical procedures were performed for four non-unions and in eight cases of delayed union. One re-fracture occurred, which was successfully treated with repeat external fixation. Only six patients regained full range of motion. The average flexion was 72°. Pin tract infections occurred in 26 patients, leading to loosening of four pins. Satisfactory results can be obtained with definitive external fixation of femoral shaft fractures. Pin tract infections, although a common occurrence, are not a major problem and can be treated by local wound care and antibiotic therapy. The most common problem is significant decrease in the range of motion of the knee.


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