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Internal fixation versus hemiarthroplasty for displaced fractures of the femoral neck in elderly patients with severe cognitive impairment

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We studied 60 patients with an acute displaced fracture of the femoral neck and with a mean age of 84 years. They were randomly allocated to treatment by either internal fixation with cannulated screws or hemiarthroplasty using an uncemented Austin Moore prosthesis. All patients had severe cognitive impairment, but all were able to walk independently before the fracture. They were reviewed at four, 12 and 24 months after surgery. Outcome assessments included complications, revision surgery, the status of activities of daily living (ADL), hip function according to the Charnley score and the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) according to the Euroqol (EQ-5D) (proxy report).

General complications and the rate of mortality at two years (42%) did not differ between the groups. The rate of hip complications was 30% in the internal fixation group and 23% in the hemiarthroplasty group; this was not significant. There was a trend towards an increased number of re-operated patients in the internal fixation group compared with the hemiarthroplasty group, 33% and 13%, respectively (p = 0.067), but the total number of surgical procedures which were required did not differ between the groups. Of the survivors at two years, 54% were totally dependent in ADL functions and 60% were bedridden or wheelchair-bound regardless of the surgical procedure. There was a trend towards decreased mobility in the hemiarthroplasty group (p = 0.066). All patients had a very low HRQOL even before the fracture. The EQ-5Dindex score was significantly worse in the hemiarthroplasty group compared with the internal fixation group at the final follow-up (p < 0.001).

In our opinion, there is little to recommend hemiarthroplasty with an uncemented Austin Moore prosthesis compared with internal fixation, in patients with severe cognitive dysfunction.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr J. Tidermark; e-mail: jan.tidermark@ortoped.sos.sll.se

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