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The treatment of a femoral shaft fracture in patients with a previous post-traumatic femoral deformity using a Clamshell osteotomy

a retrospective study

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The aim of this study was to assess the safety and clinical outcome of patients with a femoral shaft fracture and a previous complex post-traumatic femoral malunion who were treated with a clamshell osteotomy and fixation with an intramedullary nail (IMN).


The study involved a retrospective analysis of 23 patients. All had a previous, operatively managed, femoral shaft fracture with malunion due to hardware failure. They were treated with a clamshell osteotomy between May 2015 and March 2020. The mean age was 42.6 years (26 to 62) and 15 (65.2%) were male. The mean follow-up was 2.3 years (1 to 5). Details from their medical records were analyzed. Clinical outcomes were assessed using the quality of correction of the deformity, functional recovery, the healing time of the fracture, and complications.


The mean length of time between the initial injury and surgery was 4.5 years (3 to 10). The mean operating time was 2.8 hours (2.05 to 4.4)), and the mean blood loss was 850 ml (650 to 1,020). Complications occurred in five patients (21.7%): two with wound necrosis, and three with deep vein thrombosis. The mean coronal deformity was significantly corrected from 17.78° (SD 4.62°) preoperatively to 1.35° (SD 1.72°) postoperatively (p < 0.001), and the mean sagittal deformity was significantly corrected from 20.65° (SD 5.88°) preoperatively to 1.61° (SD 1.95°; p < 0.001) postoperatively. The mean leg length discrepancy was significantly corrected from 3.57 cm (SD 1.27) preoperatively to 1.13 cm (SD 0.76) postoperatively (p < 0.001). All fractures healed at a mean of seven months (4 to 12) postoperatively. The mean Lower Extremity Functional Scale score improved significantly from 45.4 (SD 9.1) preoperatively to 66.2 (SD 5.5) postoperatively (p < 0.001). Partial cortical nonunion in the deformed segment occurred in eight patients (34.8%) and healed at a mean of 2.4 years (2 to 3) postoperatively.


A clamshell osteotomy combined with IMN fixation in the treatment of patients with a femoral shaft fracture and a previous post-traumatic femoral malunion achieved excellent outcomes. Partial cortical nonunions in the deformed segment also healed satisfactorily.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2023;105-B(4):449–454.

Correspondence should be sent to Dawei Zhou. E-mail:

C. Zhang, C. Wang, and N. Duan are joint first authors.

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