To assess the efficacy of treatment and develop an algorithm for management of nonunions of the femoral diaphysis.
Forty-four patients treated at one institution for nonunion of the femoral diaphysis were studied. Thirteen of these patients had a history of infection. After debridement (where appropriate) and repair of the femoral nonunion, follow-up averaged twenty-eight months (range, 24 to 108 months). All patients were examined at final follow-up.
Thirty-three patients achieved union after one procedure, and eight patients achieved union after additional procedures. One patient underwent above-knee amputation, and two patients remained ununited at the time of their final follow-up. Time to union averaged 11.8 months. Seventeen patients healed with more than two centimeters of shortening, and ten patients lost more than 30 degrees of knee flexion.
Established femoral diaphyseal nonunions can be treated effectively, even in the presence of chronic sepsis. Selective use of a vascularized fibula transfer has proven beneficial in addressing intercalary defects. Plate fixation, with or without a vascularized fibula transfer, has been the predominant mode of skeletal stabilization in more complex reconstructions.