Between 1962 and 1987, we treated fifty-six patients for sixty broken intramedullary nails, using a custom-made hook to extract the distal fragment of the nail. The charts and radiographs of all of the patients were reviewed. Thirty-nine of the nails had been inserted in a fresh fracture, which usually was comminuted; eight had been used for fixation of an osteotomy; nine, for fixation of a non-union; and four, for treatment of a pathological fracture. Several small-diameter intramedullary nails broke at the site of the fracture or non-union. In contrast, the sites of breakage in the interlocking nails were the interlocking holes and the welded junction of the top insertional portion and the proximal slot. Many of the breakages were in patients who had an unstable fracture pattern. The interval between insertion and breakage ranged from one to 120 months.
Copyright 1988 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated