Atypical femur fracture (AFF) is a well known complication of Bisphosphonate therapy. Due to prolonged suppression of bone re-modelling in these fractures, surgical complications are difficult to manage. The aim of this study was to analyze the causes of surgical complications in AFF fixations and provide algorithm for management.
In this retrospective 10-year study (2010–2020), we identified patients surgically treated for AFF. We included patients who underwent revision surgery for any cause. Data collection included demographics, surgical complications, details of revision surgery and time to union.
Out of 57 patients who were operated for AFF, 17 underwent revision fixation. The average age was 69 with only 2 males. Around two-third (64%) were sub-trochanteric fractures and method of fixation in 64% cases was intra-medullary nail. The most common complication was non-union (12), followed by stress fracture and infection in 3 and 2 cases respectively. In most cases inadequate reduction and sub-optimal fixation was perceived as cause of failure except two cases which got infected. Revision fixation in all cases included improved bone contact (non-union site osteotomy), use of bone morphogenic proteins and improved fixation with augmentation device (either nail or plate). Follow up at 1 year showed fracture union in 12 cases, remaining 5 revision fixations failed, 3 of which were managed with proximal femur replacement.
High rate of non-union after fixation in AFF. Optimizing the fixation construct results in union in most cases. However, arthroplasty should be considered in elderly patients with poor bone quality.