The treatment of femoral shaft fractures in older children and adolescents using rigid intramedullary (IM) nail fixation offers the advantages of decreased soft tissue stripping, low incidence of malalignment, leg length discrepancy, early ambulation, and decreased hospital stay. Recent reports have described the development of osteonecrosis of the femoral head in children after IM nailing through the piriformis fossa and the tip of the greater trochanter. Others have noted secondary proximal femoral valgus and femoral neck narrowing after antegrade IM nailing. Using the lateral aspect of the greater \trochanter as the starting point avoids the tenuous blood supply of the proximal femur and did not seem to produce avascular necrosis or proximal femoral deformity in early reports.Methods:
A retrospective clinical and radiographic review of 78 children and adolescents with 80 femoral shaft fractures who underwent IM nail fixation through the lateral aspect of the greater trochanter, with a mean follow-up of 99 weeks, was performed. Twenty-four fractures were observed until skeletal maturity. Final standing anteroposterior radiographs of both lower extremities were used to assess for evidence of osteonecrosis, limb length discrepancy, fracture alignment, and indices around the hips.Results:
All patients went on to union in good clinical alignment without loss of reduction. No nonunions, delayed unions, or malunions were observed. Two patients developed infections postoperatively (2.5%). No patient had evidence of osteonecrosis of the femoral head. There was no significant difference in neck-shaft angle, articulotrochanteric distance, or femoral diameter when compared with the nonsurgical, normal side in these patients.Conclusions:
Intramedullary nail fixation through the lateral aspect of the greater trochanter in children and adolescents is effective. It does not produce clinically important femoral neck valgus or narrowing. We did not observe osteonecrosis of the femoral head.Level of Evidence:
Level IV, case series.