, Volume 471, Issue 9, pp 2831-2840
Date: 07 Feb 2013

Unstable Intertrochanteric Femur Fractures: Is There a Consensus on Definition and Treatment in Germany?

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Abstract

Background

Extramedullary and intramedullary implants have improved in recent years, although consensus is lacking concerning the definition and classification of unstable intertrochanteric fractures, with uncertainties regarding treatment.

Questions/purposes

We conducted a national survey of practicing chairpersons of German institutions to determine current perspectives and perceptions of practice in the diagnosis, management, and surgical treatment of unstable intertrochanteric fractures.

Methods

Between January and February 2010, we emailed 575 German chairpersons of trauma and/or orthopaedic departments, asking them to complete a 26-question web-based survey regarding three broad domains: fracture classification and instability criteria, implants and surgical treatment algorithms, and timing of operations. Response rate was 42%.

Results

There was a clear preference for use of the AO/OTA fracture classification with geographic variations. Absence of medial support was considered the main criterion for fracture instability (84%), whereas a broken lateral wall and detached greater trochanter were considered by 4% and 5% of the respondents, respectively, to determine instability. Two percent routinely fixed unstable intertrochanteric fractures with extramedullary devices. Ninety-eight percent of German hospitals reportedly perform surgery within 24 hours after admission. Time to surgery was dependent on hospital level, with more direct surgeries in Level I hospitals.

Conclusions

Despite varying opinions in the literature in recent years, we found some instability criteria (lateral wall breach, a detached greater trochanter) played a minor role in defining an unstable intertrochanteric fracture pattern. Despite recent meta-analyses suggesting clinical equivalence of intra- and extramedullary implants, few respondents routinely treat unstable intertrochanteric fractures with extramedullary plates. Additional studies are required to specify the influence of fracture characteristics on complication rate and function and to establish a classification system with clear treatment recommendations for unstable intertrochanteric fractures.

Level of Evidence

Level V, expert opinion. See the Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Each author certifies that he or she has no commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.
All ICMJE Conflict of Interest Forms for authors and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research editors and board members are on file with the publication and can be viewed on request.
Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research neither advocates nor endorses the use of any treatment, drug, or device. Readers are encouraged to always seek additional information, including FDA approval status, of any drug or device before clinical use.
Each author certifies that his or her institution approved the human protocol for this investigation, that all investigations were conducted in conformity with ethical principles of research, and that informed consent for participation in the study was obtained.
This work was performed at RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.