It is common belief that consolidated intramedullary nailed trochanteric femur fractures can result in secondary midshaft or supracondylar fractures, involving the distal screws, when short or long nails are used, respectively. In addition, limited data exists in the literature to indicate when short or long nails should be selected for treatment. The aim of this biomechanical cadaveric study was to investigate short versus long Trochanteric Femoral Nail Advanced (TFNA) fixation in terms of construct stability and generation of secondary fracture pattern following trochanteric fracture consolidation.
Eight intact human cadaveric femur pairs were assigned to 2 groups of 8 specimens each for nailing using either short or long TFNA with blade as head element. Each specimen was first biomechanically preloaded at 1 Hz over 2000 cycles in superimposed synchronous axial compression to 1800 N and internal rotation to 11.5 Nm. Following, internal rotation to failure was applied over an arc of 90° within 1 second under 700 N axial load. Torsional stiffness, torque at failure, angle at failure and energy at failure were evaluated. Fracture patterns were analyzed.
Outcomes in the groups with short and long nails were 9.7±2.4 Nm/° and 10.2±2.9 Nm/° for torsional stiffness, 119.8±37.2 Nm and 128.5±46.7 Nm for torque at failure, 13.5±3.5° and 13.4±2.6° for angle at failure, and 887.5±416.9 Nm° and 928.3±461.0 Nm° for energy at failure, respectively, with no significant differences between them, P≥0.167. Fractures through the distal locking screw occurred in 5 and 6 femora instrumented with short and long nails, respectively. Fractures through the lateral entry site of the head element were detected in 3 specimens within each group. For short nails, fractures through the distal shaft region, not interfacing with the implant, were detected in 3 specimens.
From biomechanical perspective, the risk of secondary peri-implant fracture after intramedullary nailed trochanteric fracture consolidation is similar when using short or long TFNA. Moreover, for both nail versions the fracture pattern does not unexceptionally involve the distal locking screw.