Femoral Nonunion: Risk Factors and Treatment Options

Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons February 2008, Volume 16, Issue 2 Joseph R. Lynch, MD, Lisa A. Taitsman, MD, MPH, David P. Barei, MD and Sean E. Nork, MD

Despite advances in surgical technique, fracture fixation alternatives, and adjuncts to healing, femoral nonunion continues to be a significant clinical problem. Femoral fractures may fail to unite because of the severity of the injury, damage to the surrounding soft tissues, inadequate initial fixation, and demographic characteristics of the patient, including nicotine use, advanced age, and medical comorbidities. Femoral nonunion is a functional and economical challenge for the patient, as well as a treatment dilemma for the surgeon. Surgeons should understand the various treatment alternatives and their role in achieving the goals of deformity correction, infection management, and optimization of muscle strength and rehabilitation. Used appropriately, nail dynamization, exchange nailing, and plate osteosynthesis can help minimize pain and disability by promoting osseous union. A review of the potential risk factors and treatment alternatives should provide insight into the etiology and required treatment of femoral non-union.

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