Intramedullary Femoral Nailing:

Intramedullary Femoral Nailing: Removing the nail improves subjective outcome

A.Toms, R.L.Morgan-Jones, R.Spencer-Jones


Intra-medullary nailing has become an established treatment for femoral fractures. We reviewed the subjective and objective outcome of locked intra-medullary nailing since its introduction to our unit in 1988. Outcome was assessed subjectively using the Short Form 36 health questionnaire and objectively by clinical, radiological and case note review.

Between 1988-1995 220 intra-medullary femoral nails were inserted at the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary. Of these we were able to match the SF36 questionnaire and case review in 91 patients. 56 patients were male and 35 female with an average age of 40. Acute trauma accounted for 86 cases (6 with an injury severity score > 15 and 7 compound injuries). There was a 24% incidence of minor complications; there were no deep infections and no major complications. All cases recorded subjective scores within the normal range but 34 symptomatic patients who had their femoral nails removed (mainly for persistent pain or prominent metalwork) recorded noticeably higher scores in all eight assessment areas.

Intra-medullary nailing for femoral fractures is a technically demanding procedure and results in both a good objective and subjective outcome. It is associated with a low rate of major complications but a relatively high rate of minor complications. We conclude that the removal of intra-medullary femoral nails is justified in symptomatic patients. It results in an improved subjective outcome and has a low complication rate.