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General Orthopaedics


Current Concepts in Joint Replacement (CCJR) – Spring 2015


Femoral neck fractures continue to be one of the most common orthopaedic injuries treated today. Owing to the increased longevity of patients, enduring activity of older patients, and widespread osteoporosis in the population, there are more femoral neck fractures treated nowadays than ever before. Over 1 million femoral neck fractures were treated in the >65 year old population, in the United States, between the years 1991–2008.

The treatment of femoral neck fractures is unique because some fractures are amenable to internal fixation, while others require endoprosthetic replacement, either with a hemiarthroplasty or total hip replacement. Traditionally, less displaced fractures are treated with internal fixation; however, in younger patients, an attempt to fix the displaced fractures may be performed, in order to avoid a joint replacement in this population. The age at which an attempt at internal fixation is performed is still controversial, and treatment must be individualised to each patient. In general, patients younger than 60 would likely have internal fixation of the femoral neck fracture, rather than joint replacement.

The paradigm for the treatment of femoral neck fractures has been changing in the last 10 years, due to advances in implant technology, surgical technique, and scientific papers that have compared the results of all three treatment options. Larger diameter femoral heads in combination with highly crosslinked polyethylene, or dual mobility head options, provide greater joint stability today than was possible in the past, thus making THA a more appealing option. Furthermore, greater use of the direct anterior approach to THA may also reduce the post-operative dislocation rate, due to preservation of the posterior capsule and short external rotators.

Therefore, the author will propose the use of arthroplasty for displaced femoral neck fractures in patients younger than 60 years of age, owing to the reliability and reproducibility of THA over ORIF. Furthermore, the advances in arthroplasty materials and surgical techniques can restore function in this group of younger patients, with greater longevity of the implant than in the past.