Background: Although the use of a sliding hip screw is considered to be the preferred treatment for pertrochanteric femoral fractures, we theorized that external fixation could produce clinical outcomes equal to, if not better than, the outcomes obtained with conventional treatment. Furthermore, because external fixation is minimally invasive, we expected a lower rate of morbidity and a reduced need for blood transfusions. Therefore, we compared the two treatments in a clinical trial of elderly patients with pertrochanteric fracture.
Methods: Forty consecutive elderly female patients who had a pertrochanteric fracture were randomized to be treated with either fixation with a 135° four-hole sliding hip screw (Group A) or an external fixation device with hydroxyapatite-coated pins (Group B). The inclusion criteria were female gender, an age of at least sixty-five years, an AO/OTA type-A1 or A2 fracture, and a bone mineral density T-score of less than -2.5. There were no differences in patient age, fracture type, bone mineral density, comorbidities, length of hospital stay, or quality of reduction between the two groups.
Results: The average intraoperative time (and standard deviation) was 64 ± 6 minutes in Group A and 34 ± 5 minutes in Group B (p < 0.005). The average number of units of blood transfused postoperatively was 2.0 ± 0.1 in Group A and none in Group B (p < 0.0001). Group B had less pain five days postoperatively (p < 0.05). Varus collapse of the fracture at six months averaged 6° ± 8° in Group A and 2° ± 1° in Group B (p < 0.002). No pin-track infections occurred in Group B. The average Harris hip score at six months was 62 ± 19 points in Group A and 63 ± 17 points in Group B.
Conclusions: This study showed that external fixation with hydroxyapatite-coated pins is an effective treatment for this fracture in this patient population. The operative time is brief, the blood loss is minimal, the fixation is adequate, and the reduction is maintained over time.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Bologna University, Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute, Via G.C. Pupilli, 1, 40136 Bologna, Italy. E-mail address for A. Moroni: email@example.com