Distal femur fracture fixation failure: The role of distal femur replacement in a revision setting

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Orthopaedics, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH, USA



Introduction: Distal femur fractures are a common fracture seen in both high and low-energy traumas in young and elderly patients. The standard of care in healthy, mobile, younger patients remains open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) through various fixation devices. However, the standard of care for comorbid and elderly patients remains unclear. In these patients, rates of nonunion vary between 6% and 20%, requiring revision surgery. Our study sought to identify patients who have gone endoprosthesis conversion to a distal femur replacement following failed ORIF. 
Methods: This descriptive study includes a total of eight patients who underwent a revision distal femoral replacement (DFR) following failure of primary distal femur ORIF and data were gathered through chart review. Patient comorbidities, demographic characteristics, hospital disposition, complications, and mortality were collected and described. 
Results: The average age of this cohort was 52.1 years, with 6 being female, and with a follow-up mean of 3.02 years. The most common medical comorbidities present in these patients at the time of ORIF were diabetes, hypertension, obesity, smoking, and renal insufficiency. 87.5% of patients were able to tolerate weight bearing following DFR conversion, compared to 62.5% tolerating weight bearing before revision. Complications requiring revision surgery occurred in 3/8 patients, which included: aseptic loosening, prosthetic joint infection, and patellar maltracking. 
Conclusion: DFR in a revision setting following acute distal femur ORIF can be an acceptable treatment options with outcomes similar to primary DFR. Further investigation is warranted to determine optimal timing and indications for primary DFR in a fracture setting.


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