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J Orthop Trauma. 1994 Aug;8(4):322-7.

Initial experience with the treatment of supracondylar femoral fractures using the supracondylar intramedullary nail: a preliminary report.

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Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, Camden, New Jersey.


Initial experience at a Level I Trauma Center with the use of a retrograde supracondylar intramedullary (IM) nail for the treatment of supracondylar and supracondylar-intercondylar intraarticular fractures of the distal femur is presented. Thirty-eight patients with 41 complex distal femur fractures were treated with this newly developed retrograde IM rod. These included 22 open fractures and 19 closed fractures. Four nonunions occurred, but all progressed to union after revision internal fixation and bone grafting. Two of five delayed unions required revision fixation. Two required screw renewal and dynamization. Thirty-five of 41 knees achieved at least 90 degrees of knee motion. There were no infections and no problems with wound healing. Four patients developed fatigue fractures of the rod. These mechanical failures occurred when 11- and 12-mm nails were used in conjunction with 6.4-mm interlocking screws. The rod system was therefore modified to include 12- and 13-mm diameter nails and smaller 5.0-mm interlocking screws. There have been no subsequent nail failures. We are cautiously optimistic that supracondylar IM rod fixation will contribute to the management of these difficult fractures. However, further clinical trials and additional biomechanical testing should be undertaken prior to widespread use of this device.

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