Femur Fracture Fixation with Intramedullary Rod

The femur is one of the strongest and most essential bones in the body. When the femur is fractured, there are several ways to repair it. One of these ways is fixation through an intramedullary rod. This type of surgery is usually very effective long-term in repairing a fractured femur in a way that can keep the bone strong and healing properly. 

Common Causes of Femur Fracture

Because the femur is so strong, it is unlikely to break it in a simple accident, especially at a young age. Sometimes the femur becomes weakened through bone issues, which is more common in children with conditions like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Another common age for injury to the femur is 65 or older, once bones are weakened by conditions like osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. If a patient is not in either of these groups, a femur injury can usually only be caused by a serious injury like a car accident or a fall from a height. These kinds of accidents generally cause other serious issues like hip dislocation as well, so femur fracture repair can be more difficult in these cases. 

Basics of Femur Fracture Fixation with An Intramedullary Rod

This surgery is relatively simple and moderately invasive. The patient is first placed under general anesthesia, and an incision is made in the thigh near the hip. This exposes the upper end of the femur. If the bones have been broken apart completely or misaligned, the surgeon repositions the bones first. Then, they take a special drill and make a deep hole through the top of the bone into the femoral shaft. Inside the bone is an area called the medullary cavity. This contains bone marrow and is soft and spongy. The doctor inserts a long rod into the bone which extends all the way down through the medullary cavity until it hits the bottom of the femur. This will strengthen and support the healing bone. Then a few more small incisions are created near the head and base of the femur so that they can place smaller screws to stabilize the rod. 

Recovery Time 

Depending on the nature of the original injury, some patients may be able to put weight on their leg up to a few days after surgery. Some people may take 4-6 weeks to be able to use their leg again. There is a follow up appointment a few weeks after the surgery where the leg is x-rayed to make sure that the leg is healing properly. Most patients are able to walk again normally and regain mobility within 3-6 months. Many doctors recommend physical therapy to help the patient heal more effectively. There are some patients who may experience complications after the surgery, but if these are caught early on, there may be some additional procedures done to stabilize and help the leg heal. 

Long-Term Effects 

This type of femur fracture fixation is very effective in the long term, but unfortunately there can be complications and issues if the patient is not careful. If the patient injures their femur again through another serious accident, the internal rod can cause issues. Some patients can also have concerns with the hardware later in life. Sometimes the lower support nails can cause fractures in the bone or pain. In some cases, patients might also experience nonunion, where the body rejects the hardware. This can create some complications where more surgery may be needed to remove or change the metal and the type of screws used. Luckily, most patients are able to heal properly and regain the use of their leg for many years to come.