The Association of Reamed Intramedullary Nailing and Long-Term Cognitive Impairment

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To examine the association of reamed intramedullary nailing (IMN) and long-term cognitive impairment in trauma intensive care unit survivors.


Prospective observational cohort.


Academic Level I trauma center.


One hundred seventy-three patients with multiple trauma (Injury Severity Score greater than 15) who presented to a Level I trauma intensive care unit from July 2006 to July 2007 without evidence of intrancranial hemorrhage.



Main Outcome Measure:

Twelve-month cognitive impairment defined a priori as two neuropsychological test scores 1.5 standard deviation below the mean or 1 neuropsychologic test score 2 standard deviations below the mean.


One hundred eight of 173 patients (62.4%) were evaluated 12 months after injury with a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests. There were 18 patients who received a reamed IMN and 14 of 18 (78%) of these patients had cognitive deficit at follow-up. Fracture treatment with a reamed IMN was associated with long-term impairment (27.4% vs 8.2%, P = 0.03). Multivariable logistic regression found that a reamed IMN (odds ratio, 3.2; 95% confidence interval, 0.95–10.9; P = 0.06) was a moderate risk factor for the development of cognitive impairment 12 months after injury after controlling for Injury Severity Score, level of education, intraoperative hypotension, and duration of mechanical ventilation.


Fracture fixation with a reamed IMN is moderately associated with cognitive impairment in this cohort of multiple trauma patients without intrancranial hemorrhage at 1 year postinjury. Orthopaedic trauma research should continue to investigate a potential association of acute fracture management and long-term cognitive outcome.

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