A Mechanical Comparison of Subtrochanteric Femur Fracture Fixation

Kevin J. Pugh, Robert A. Morgan, John T. Gorczyca, David Pienkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether the mechanical properties of first-generation interlocking femoral nails are different from those of second-generation interlocking femoral nails in a subtrochanteric femur fracture model. Design: Randomized laboratory investigation using a synthetic subtrochanteric femur fracture model. Setting: Simulated stable and unstable fractures were created at three levels in the subtrochanteric region of synthetic femora. Instrumented specimens were tested elastically in a biomaterials testing system. Intervention: Synthetic femora were instrumented with either a statically locked first-generation femoral nail or a statically locked second-generation femoral nail. Main Outcome Measurements: Elastic stiffness for both the stable and unstable fracture groups was measured in both compression and torsion. Unstable fracture specimens were tested to failure in compression, and load to failure was measured. Results: Throughout the subtrochanteric region, second-generation femoral nail constructs were consistently stiffer in compression and torsion than were statically locked first-generation femoral nail constructs. In general, second-generation constructs also withstood larger loads to failure in the unstable fracture model. Conclusions: Second-generation nails provided significantly enhanced mechanical stiffness compared with first-generation femoral nails when used to treat both stable and unstable subtrochanteric femur fractures. Although these results were obtained by using a well-controlled, mechanically consistent model, clinical validation of an increased incidence of fracture unions or of decreased time to union is required before we can recommend that second-generation nails be used routinely to treat subtrochanteric femur fractures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-329
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Trauma
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998


  • Biomechanics
  • Intramedullary nail
  • Reconstruction nail
  • Subtrochanteric femur fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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