Temperature Rise During Reamed Tibial Nailing

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The current study determined the temperature rise during reamed tibial intramedullary nailing in vivo. Eighteen adult patients were studied. The tibial medullary canal diameter ranged from 8 to 11 mm and was reamed to at least 1.5 mm above the required nail diameter with AO reamers. Reaming of the medullary cavity ranged from 9 to 12 mm before nail insertion. Intraoperative monitoring of the heat produced during reaming of the medullary cavity was done by inserting two platinum resistance thermometer probes into the cortical bone at the short isthmic segment of the tibial shaft. The probes were connected to a data logger, and temperature readings were taken every 5 seconds during each reaming procedure. The mean tibial temperature before initiation of reaming was 35.6° C (standard deviation, ± 0.5°), and peak temperatures recorded were from 36.1° C to 51.6° C. A direct correlation was observed between temperature elevation and amount of reaming. With reaming above 10 mm, tibias with a canal diameter of 8 mm showed a statistically higher temperature rise compared with tibias with a canal diameter of 9, 10, or 11 mm. No patients had intraoperative or postoperative complications related to skin or bone thermal necrosis, and bony healing progressed uneventfully. The small amount of reaming required to insert a nail into a normal 9-, 10-, or 11- mm tibial canal does not seem to produce a clinical problem. Reaming smaller canals (8 mm) to a larger size may induce a significant heating effect.

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