Is the Best Plate a Nail? A Review of 3230 Unstable Intertrochanteric Fractures of the Proximal Femur

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To evaluate the functional outcomes, revision, and mortality rates of 3 implants used for unstable intertrochanteric hip fractures; the sliding hip screw (SHS), with or without a trochanteric stabilization plate (TSP); and a cephalomedullary nail (CMN).


Multicentre National Prospective Cohort Study.


Northern Ireland.


Patients were identified from a prospective database. Fractures were classified according to OTA/AO A31A2.2, A2.3, and A3. All patients had a minimum of 12 months of follow-up.


Patients received either an SHS, an SHS in combination with a TSP, or a CMN. Implant choice was at the discretion of the operating surgeon.

Outcome Measure:

Primary outcome was 12-month mortality analyzed by the Kaplan–Meier survival analysis. Secondary outcomes included 12-month functional status using a validated score and all time revision of implants for any reason.


In total, 3230 patients met the inclusion criteria (2474 SHS, 158 SHS + TSP, and 598 CMN). CMN use increased over time, with concomitant reduction in SHS use. There was no significant difference in functional outcomes at 12 months (analysis of variance, P = 0.177). Although men were significantly younger, they were at a higher risk of 12-month mortality. CMNs had statistically significantly lower 12-month mortality rates (P = 0.0148). The highest revision rate (4.04%) was seen in patients treated with SHS alone (P = 0.041).


The use of a CMN in unstable intertrochanteric hip fractures conveys the best results in functional outcomes, 12-month mortality, and has lower revision rates compared with an SHS ± TSP.

Level of Evidence:

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

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