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Children's Orthopaedics

Increasing stability by pre-bending the nails in elastic stable intramedullary nailing

A biomechanical analysis of a synthetic femoral spiral fracture model

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Elastic stable intramedullary nailing (ESIN) is generally acknowledged to be the treatment of choice for displaced diaphyseal femoral fractures in children over the age of three years, although complication rates of up to 50% are described. Pre-bending the nails is recommended, but there are no published data to support this. Using synthetic bones and a standardised simulated fracture, we performed biomechanical testing to determine the influence on the stability of the fracture of pre-bending the nails before implantation. Standard ESIN was performed on 24 synthetic femoral models with a spiral fracture. In eight cases the nails were inserted without any pre-bending, in a further eight cases they were pre-bent to 30° and in the last group of eight cases they were pre-bent to 60°. Mechanical testing revealed that pre-bending to 60° produced a significant increase in the stiffness or stability of the fracture. Pre-bending to 60° showed a significant positive influence on the stiffness compared with unbent nails. Pre-bending to 30° improved stiffness only slightly.

These findings validate the recommendations for pre-bending, but the degree of pre-bend should exceed 30°. Adopting higher degrees of pre-bending should improve stability in spiral fractures and reduce the complications of varus deformity and shortening.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr M. M. Kaiser; e-mail:

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