Intramedullary Versus Extramedullary Fixation for Unstable Intertrochanteric Fractures: A Prospective Randomized Controlled Trial

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The use of intramedullary devices for the management of intertrochanteric fractures has steadily increased without good evidence of their clinical efficacy. This prospective randomized multicenter study was designed to compare the clinical and radiographic outcomes of patients who had been treated with a traditional extramedullary hip screw for an unstable (AO/OTA 31-A2) intertrochanteric hip fracture with those of patients who had been treated with the newer intramedullary device for the same injury.


The Lower Extremity Measure (LEM) was used as the primary hip-specific outcome tool. The Functional Independence Measure (FIM), the timed “Up & Go” (TUG) test, as well as a timed two-minute walk test were used as secondary clinical outcome tools. Specific radiographic parameters were collected to assess for fracture movement, heterotopic ossification, and implant failure.


No significant differences were noted between the intramedullary and extramedullary treatment arms with regard to either the primary or the secondary clinical outcome tools. The radiographic parameters favored the intramedullary treatment arm, which had less femoral neck shortening.


While the use of the intramedullary devices led to better radiographic outcomes in this study, this did not translate to improved functional outcomes.

Level of Evidence:

Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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