Reamed intramedullary nailing of the femur: 551 cases

Philip R Wolinsky, Eric McCarty, Yu Shyr, Kenneth Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

228 Scopus citations


Background: The care of the patient with the fractured femur entails a multiple surgical team approach. Healing of the fracture and expediency in the operating room are both important. We sought to determine the results of the treatment of fractures of the femoral shaft with interlocking femoral nails inserted with closed techniques, and to compare the outcomes of fractures nailed by using a fracture table with those stabilized with the leg draped free on a radiolucent table. Methods: Eight hundred eighty-two consecutive patients with fractures of the femoral shaft treated with a first-generation intramedullary nail at the authors' institution during the years 1986 to 1996 were identified. Five hundred fifty-one fractures in 515 patients met the inclusion criteria. Results: Treatment with an intramedullary nail led to a union rate of 98.9%. There were six infections, all occurring in closed fractures. Thirty-eight percent of the fractures had hardware removed, most commonly because of pain. One nail and 13 locking bolts broke. Four hundred eighteen fractures had adequate radiographs available to assess fracture alignment. No fracture healed with more than 10 degrees of angulation in either plane. Forty-four fractures healed with more than 5 degrees of angulation. A distal third fracture was found to be associated with an increased incidence of malalignment. There were no differences in outcomes between fractures stabilized with or without a fracture table. Conclusion: Reamed intramedullary nailing of femoral shaft fractures results in a low rate of nonunion, malunion, infection, and hardware failure. There is no difference in the outcomes of fractures treated with and without the use of a fracture table. This is particularly useful in the patient with multiple injuries for whom transfer to a fracture table may not be time effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-399
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Femoral shaft fracture
  • Intramedullary nailing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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