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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2018 Dec;476(12):2381-2388. doi: 10.1097/CORR.0000000000000489.

What Is the Adverse Event Profile After Prophylactic Treatment of Femoral Shaft or Distal Femur Metastases?

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R. P. McLynn, N. T. Ondeck, J. N. Grauer, D. M. Lindskog, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA R. P. McLynn, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, AL, USA N. T. Ondeck, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY, USA.



Prophylactic surgical treatment of the femur is commonly offered to patients with metastatic disease who have a high risk of impending pathologic fracture. Prophylactic fixation is associated with improved functional outcomes in appropriate patients selected based on established criteria, but the perioperative complication profile has received little attention. Given the substantial comorbidity in this population, it is important to characterize surgical risks for surgeons and patients to improve treatment decisions.


(1) What is the incidence of postoperative adverse events after prophylactic surgical stabilization of metastatic lesions of the femoral shaft or distal femur? (2) How does this complication profile compare with stabilization of pathologic fractures adjusted for differences in patient demographics and comorbidity?


We performed a retrospective study using the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database. We identified patients undergoing prophylactic treatment of the femoral shaft or distal femur by Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. Patients undergoing treatment of a pathologic fracture were identified by CPT code for femur fracture fixation as well as an International Classification of Diseases code indicating neoplasm or pathologic fracture. We tracked adverse events, operative time, blood transfusion, hospital length of stay, and discharge to a facility within 30 days postoperatively. There were 332 patients included in the prophylactic treatment group and 288 patients in the pathologic fracture group. Patients in the prophylactic treatment group presented with greater body mass index (BMI), whereas the pathologic fracture group presented with a greater incidence of disseminated cancer. The odds of experiencing adverse events were initially compared between the two groups using bivariate logistic regression and then using multivariate regression controlling for age, sex, BMI, and American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class and disseminated cancer causing marked physiological compromise per NSQIP guidelines.


With multivariate analysis controlling for age, sex, BMI, and ASA class, patients with pathologic fracture were more likely to experience any adverse event (odds ratio [OR], 1.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-2.29; p = 0.036), major adverse events (OR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.01-2.55; p = 0.043), death (OR, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.07-3.38; p = 0.030), blood transfusion (OR, 1.57; 95% CI, 1.08-2.27; p = 0.017), and hospital stay ≥ 9 days (OR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.05-2.19; p = 0.028) compared with patients undergoing prophylactic treatment. However, when additionally controlling for disseminated cancer, the only difference was that patients with pathologic fractures were more likely to receive a blood transfusion than were patients undergoing prophylactic fixation (OR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.12-2.36; p = 0.011).


After controlling for differences in patient characteristics, prophylactic treatment of femoral metastases was associated with a decreased likelihood of blood transfusion and no differences in terms of the frequency of other adverse events. In the context of prior studies supporting the mechanical and functional outcomes of prophylactic treatment, the findings of this cohort suggest that the current guidelines have achieved a reasonable balance of morbidity in patients with femoral lesions and further support the current role of prophylactic treatment of impending femur fractures in appropriately selected patients.


Level III, therapeutic study.

[Available on 2019-12-01]

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