The senior author's 12-year consecutive series of surgery for metastatic disease of the femur was reviewed. Treatment of 97 impending pathologic fractures yielded better results than treatment of 85 completed pathologic fractures with less average blood loss (438 cc versus 636 cc), shorter hospital stay (7 days versus 11 days), greater likelihood of discharge to home as opposed to an extended care facility (79% versus 56%) and greater likelihood of resuming support-free ambulation (35% versus 12%). Internal stabilization with a reconstruction-type intramedullary nail provided satisfactory pain relief and functional preservation for most patients with impending pathologic femur fractures (69 of 97, 71%), although alternate forms of internal fixation (21 of 97, 22%) or cemented arthroplasty (seven of 97, 7%) were used successfully. Completed pathologic fractures were more likely to require some form of arthroplasty (47 of 85, 55%), although reconstruction-type nails (20 of 85, 24%), and other internal fixation techniques (18 of 85, 21%) also were used. Modular oncology-type arthroplasty systems offered a viable salvage option in both groups. In the absence of conflicting goals or contraindications, internal stabilization of impending pathologic fractures before the completion of the fracture seems to be reasonable and appropriate.
From the *Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Wake Forest University School of Medicine;
**Department of Orthopaedic Surgery UCLA Medical Center.
Reprint requests to William G. Ward, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1070. Phone: (336) 716-3952; E-mail: email@example.com.
Dr. Ward has received research funding for other projects from Howmedica, Inc, Sulzer, Inc, and Depuy, Inc. He also has served as a paid consultant to Howmedica Inc, Sulzer, Inc, and Smith & Nephew, Inc in other capacities.