Open intramedullary nailing for segmental long bone fractures: an effective alternative in a resource restricted environment
Background: Closed, locked intramedullary nailing has been accepted as the gold standard in the care of femoral fractures, with reported union rates as high as 98–100%. Closed, locked intramedullary nailing often requires expensive equipment which is a challenge in developing countries. Segmental long bone fractures are often a result of high‑energy trauma and hence often associated with a lot of injuries to the surrounding soft tissues. This consequently results in higher rates of delayed or nonunion. This study was proposed to review the outcome of management of segmental fractures with locked intramedullary nails, using an open method of reduction.
Methods: A retrospective analysis was made of data obtained from all segmental long bone fractures treated with intramedullary nailing over a 1‑year period. Records were retrieved from the folders of patients operated on from January 2011 to December 2011. Patients were followed up for a minimum of 1 year after the surgery.
Results: We managed a total of 12 segmental long bone fractures in 11 patients. Eight of the 12 fractures were femoral fractures and 10 of the fractures were closed fractures. All but one fracture (91.7%) achieved union within 4 months with no major complications.
Conclusions: Open method of locked intramedullary nailing achieves satisfactory results when used for the management of long bone fractures. The method can be used for segmental fractures of the humerus, femur, and tibia, with high union rates. This is particularly useful in low‑income societies where the use of intraoperative imaging may be unavailable or unaffordable. It gives patients in such societies, a chance for comparable outcomes in terms of union rates as well as avoidance of major complications. Larger prospective studies will be necessary to conclusively validate the efficacy of this fixation method in this environment.
Keywords: Locked intramedullary nailing, open reduction, segmental fractures