Abduction strength following intramedullary nailing of the femur.

Bain GI, Zacest AC, Paterson DC, Middleton J, Pohl AP

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Modbury Public Hospital, South Australia, Australia.

OBJECTIVES: To assess hip abductor function, strength and complaints following insertion of a femoral intramedullary nail.

DESIGN: Retrospective clinical review.

SETTING: Department of Orthopaedics, Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

PATIENTS: 1. 32 of 37 patients who had an intramedullary nail inserted for an isolated femoral shaft fracture at the Royal Adelaide Hospital between 1987 and 1990. 2. 14 of 18 patients who had closed femoral shortening for leg length discrepancy, at the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital between 1985 and 1987. Patients with pathology involving the abductor mechanism were excluded. 3. 40 asymptomatic controls.

INTERVENTION: Intramedullary fixation for femoral shaft fractures or as part of closed femoral shortening. All procedures were performed on a traction table via a gluteal splitting approach with reamed nails.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: Complaints included, pain, stiffness, limp and diminished walking distance. Examination of abductor function and measurement of abductor strength. Radiological assessment at followup. RESULTS: Complaints included trochanteric pain (40%, 40%), thigh pain (10%, 8%) and limp (13%, 42%) in the femoral fracture and closed femoral shortening groups respectively. There was significant difference in the abduction strength (p < 0.01) and abduction ratio (p < 0.01) between the control and each treatment group. Abductor weakness correlated (r = 0.30) with the incidence of complaints.

CONCLUSION: Pain, limp and weakness are common following insertion of a femoral intramedullary nail. Agluteal retracting approach may minimize abductor weakness.

J Orthop Trauma 1997 Feb-Mar;11(2):93-7

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