Fracture of the femur is one of the common complications of hip replacement surgery. Five percent of femur fractures involve just the greater trochanter. This series consisted of 21 women and nine men with fractures of just the greater trochanter after total or partial hip replacement. The fracture was displaced 2.5 cm or less in 90% of patients. Only three (10%) patients had an increase in the amount of displacement more than 2 months after the fracture was recognized. The direction of displacement was always medially and superiorly toward the femoral head, rather than directly superiorly as in an ununited trochanteric osteotomy. For 18 (60%) patients, the fracture was asymptomatic. For 12 patients, the fracture was painful or there was a significant limp. In six of the 12 patients, the pain and limp improved over several months. There were no dislocations or subluxations in this series. Three patients continued to have pain or limp but thought it was not severe and declined surgical repair and experienced progressive improvement. In three patients, the pain, a limp, or both persisted at 1 year and the displacement was 2 cm or more. These three patients underwent operative repair of the trochanter. Two patients experienced improvement after repair of the trochanter. The conclusion was that fractures of the greater trochanter generally are stable and usually do not require additional treatment.
From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
Reprint requests to James W. Pritchett, MD, 1101 Madison Medical Tower, Number 400, Seattle, WA 98104.
Received: August 11, 2000.
Revised: November 27, 2000.
Accepted: January 24, 2001