Trochanteric Entry for Femoral Lengthening Nails in Children: Is It Safe?

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Background:Antegrade intramedullary (IM) nailing for skeletally immature femur fractures can damage the capital femoral epiphysis blood supply, leading to avascular necrosis (AVN) of the femoral head. Reported AVN rates are 2% for piriformis entry and 1.4% for trochanteric entry. None of previous reports described IM lengthening nails for limb lengthening procedures. We have used self-lengthening telescopic nails with a proximal Herzog bend and standard trochanteric entry for femoral lengthening in children. The purpose of this study is to determine whether trochanteric entry IM lengthening nails can be used safely (no AVN or proximal femoral deformity) in the skeletally immature femur.Methods:A retrospective review was performed between 2004 and 2014 to determine all skeletally immature patients younger than 18 years of age who had a reamed IM lengthening nail inserted through the greater trochanter, with at least 1-year follow-up.Results:Thirty-one femurs were lengthened in 28 patients (17 males and 11 females). The etiology was congenital femoral deficiency (10), achondroplasia (6), post-traumatic (5), hemihypertrophy (3), Ollier disease (2), and miscellaneous (5). An attending surgeon was present for all procedures. Mean age at time of surgery was 12.9 years (range, 7 to 17 y). Mean follow-up was 3.5 years (range, 1.4 to 9 y). The average amount of lengthening was 5.4 cm (range, 3 to 6.7 cm). Twenty-four nails were 10.7 mm in diameter. Seven nails were 12.5 mm in diameter. Intramedullary skeletal kinetic distractor was used in 18 femurs and PRECICE in 13 femurs. Ten segments (7 intramedullary skeletal kinetic distractor; 3 PRECICE) experienced 13 complications. None of the patients developed AVN or proximal femoral deformity.Conclusions:IM lengthening nails inserted through the greater trochanter may be utilized in skeletally immature patients without increased risk of AVN of the femoral head or proximal femoral deformity. Larger trials would be helpful to confirm our hypothesis. We recommend careful surgical technique with liberal use of the image intensifier to avoid trauma to the femoral head blood supply.Level of Evidence:Level IV—therapeutic.

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