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Short (175 mm) versus standard (220 mm) length intramedullary nail for trochanteric hip fractures: a randomized trial of 229 patients

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A lack of supporting clinical studies have been published to determine the ideal length of intramedullary nail in fixation of trochanteric fractures of the hip. Nevertheless, there has been a trend to use shorter intramedullary nails for the internal fixation of trochanteric hip fractures. Our aim was to determine if the length of nail affected the outcome.


We randomized 229 patients with a trochanteric hip fracture between two implants: a ‘standard’ nail of 220 mm and a shorter nail of 175 mm, which had decreased proximal angulation (4° vs 7°) and a reduced diameter at the level of the lesser trochanter. Patients were followed up for one year by a nurse blinded to the type of implant used to determine if there were differences in mobility and pain with two nail designs. Pain was assessed on a scale of 1 (none) to 8 (severe and constant) and mobility on a scale of 1 (full mobility) to 9 (immobile).


The shorter nail did not require any reaming of the femur and was quicker to insert (mean difference 5.1 minutes; p < 0.001, 95% confidence interval (CI) of the difference 3.16 to 7.04). Those treated by the shorter nail were less mobile (mean difference in reduction in mobility score at one year 0.80; p = 0.007, 95% CI 1.38 to 0.22). In addition, there was a trend toward greater residual pain for those treated with the shorter nail, although this was not statistically significant (mean difference in pain score at one year 0.24; p = 0.064, 95% CI -0.01 to 0.49).


These results suggest that the increasing use of this very short intramedullary nail with its design modification may not be appropriate.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(3):394–399

Correspondence should be sent to Martyn J Parker; E-mail:

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