Intramedullary fixation is the treatment of choice for closed diaphyseal fractures of femur and tibia. The axial and rotational stability of conventional interlocking nails depends primarily on locking screws. This method uses increased operating time and increased radiation exposure. An intramedullary implant that can minimize these disadvantages is obviously better. Expandable intramedullary nail does not rely on interlocking screws and achieves axial and rotational stability on hydraulic expansion of the nail. We analyzed 32 simple fractures of shaft of femur and tibia treated by self-locking expandable nail.
Materials and Methods:
Intramedullary fixation was done by using self-locking, expandable nail in 32 patients of closed diaphyseal fractures of tibia (n = 10) and femur (n = 22). The various modes of injury were road traffic accidents (n = 21), fall from height (n = 8), simple fall (n = 2), and pathological fracture (n = 1). Among femoral diaphyseal fractures 16 were males and six females, average age being 33 yrs (range, 18- 62 yrs). Seventeen patients had AO type A (A1 (n = 3), A2 (n = 4), A3 (n = 10)) and 5 patients had AO type B (B1 (n = 2), B2 (n = 2), B3 (n = 1)) fractures. Eight patients having tibial diaphyseal fractures were males and two were females; average age was 29.2 (range, 18- 55 yrs). Seven were AO type A (A1 (n = 2), A2 (n = 3), A3 (n = 2)) and three were AO type B (B1 (n = 1), B2 (n = 1), and B3 (n = 1)). We performed closed (n = 27) or open reduction (n = 5) and internal fixation with expandable nail to stabilize these fractures. The total radiation exposure during surgery was less as no locking screws were required. Early mobilisation and weight-bearing was started depending on fracture personality and evidences of healing. Absence of localised tenderness and pain on walking was considered clinical criteria for union, radiographic criteria of union being continuity in at least in three cortices in both AP and lateral views. Patients were followed for at least one year.
The average operative time was 90 min (range, 55-125 min) for femoral fractures and 53 min (range, 25-115 min) for tibial fractures. Radiation exposure was minimum, average being 84 seconds (range, 54-132) for femoral fractures and 54 seconds (range, 36-78) for tibial fractures. All fractures healed, but few had complications, such as infection (one case with tibial fracture) bent femoral nail with malunion (n = 1), and delayed union (n = 3; 2 cases in femur and 1 case in tibia). Mean time of union was 5.1 months (range, 4-10½ months) for femoral fractures and 4.8 months (range, 3-9 months) for tibial fractures.
We found the nail very easy to use with effective fixation in AO type A and B fractures in our setting. Less surgical time is required with minimum complications. The main advantage of the expandable nail is that if affords. satisfactory axial, rotatory, and bending stability with decreased radiation exposure to operating staff and the patient.