The use of the orthopaedic traction table (OTT) during elastic stable intramedullary nailing (ESIN) in the management of displaced diaphyseal femur fractures (DFFs) is still debated. In most centers, children with displaced DFF are treated using an OTT. In some other institutions, however, fracture reduction and stabilization by ESIN are performed on a radiolucent table without an OTT. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical and radiologic outcome of children with displaced DFF managed by ESIN with and without the use of an OTT.
Charts and radiographs were retrospectively reviewed for all pediatric patients sustaining DFF managed by ESIN from 2011 to 2017 at 2 different institutions. In all, 69 consecutive children with displaced DFF were recorded, of whom 35 underwent operative treatment by ESIN with the use of an OTT with skeletal traction (Group A), and 34 by ESIN without OTT (Group B). The titanium elastic nails outcome measure scale score and Beaty radiologic criteria were used to evaluate the results.
Average patient age at time of injury was 9 years (range, 5 to 13) and 10 years (range, 4 to 15) in Groups A and B, respectively. The mean follow-up was 54 months (range, 24 to 96). Overall, complications were observed in 6 patients (8.6%). Complication rate was higher among children managed without OTT (11.8%) than among children treated with OTT (2.5%); no complication related to pin insertion for skeletal traction was recorded. However, the number of patients with a poor outcome according to the titanium elastic nails outcome score was higher in Group A (20%) than in Group B (5.8%). Beaty radiologic criteria were comparable between the 2 groups. Mean length of surgery and mean cumulative time of radiation exposure during surgery were similar between the 2 groups.
Overall, both techniques work equally well although patients treated by ESIN with the use of an OTT and skeletal traction tended to have a lower rate of complications and radiologic outcome was worse than for patients treated without using an OTT; however, no statistically significant difference was found.
Despite their limitations, the results of this study suggest that displaced DFF can be safely managed by ESIN with or without the use of intraoperative OTT and skeletal traction, according to the surgeon’s preference. Further studies are now needed to consolidate these conclusions and clarify the role of the OTT.
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