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Lateral femoral wall thickness

A reliable predictor of post-operative lateral wall fracture in intertrochanteric fractures

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Although the importance of lateral femoral wall integrity is increasingly being recognised in the treatment of intertrochanteric fracture, little attention has been put on the development of a secondary post-operative fracture of the lateral wall. Patients with post-operative fractures of the lateral wall were reported to have high rates of re-operation and complication. To date, no predictors of post-operative lateral wall fracture have been reported. In this study, we investigated the reliability of lateral wall thickness as a predictor of lateral wall fracture after dynamic hip screw (DHS) implantation.

A total of 208 patients with AO/OTA 31-A1 and -A2 classified intertrochanteric fractures who received internal fixation with a DHS between January 2003 and May 2012 were reviewed. There were 103 men and 150 women with a mean age at operation of 78 years (33 to 94). The mean follow-up was 23 months (6 to 83). The right side was affected in 97 patients and the left side in 111. Clinical information including age, gender, side, fracture classification, tip–apex distance, follow-up time, lateral wall thickness and outcome were recorded and used in the statistical analysis.

Fracture classification and lateral wall thickness significantly contributed to post-operative lateral wall fracture (both p < 0.001). The lateral wall thickness threshold value for risk of developing a secondary lateral wall fracture was found to be 20.5 mm.

To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the risk factors of post-operative lateral wall fracture in intertrochanteric fracture. We found that lateral wall thickness was a reliable predictor of post-operative lateral wall fracture and conclude that intertrochanteric fractures with a lateral wall thickness < 20.5 mm should not be treated with DHS alone.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2013;95-B:1134–8.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr K-C. Huang; e-mail:

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