1. Home
  2. Skeleton
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Indications
  5. Treatment

Authors of section


Andrew Howard, James Hunter, Theddy Slongo

Executive Editor

Fergal Monsell

General Editor

Chris Colton

Open all credits

Open reduction, tension band (greater trochanter)

1. Preliminary remarks


Avulsion of the greater trochanter that disrupts the abductor mechanism can be repaired by open reduction and screw or tension band fixation depending on the size of the avulsed fragment.

A tension band wire technique is a good alternative for smaller fragments.

For children with 4 or more years of growth remaining, it is recommended that implants are removed after fracture healing to allow for growth.

For children with less than 4 years of growth remaining, the implants can be left in place unless symptomatic.

open reduction tension band greater trochanter

Equipment selection

The following implants are required:

  • 1.6, 2.0, or 2.5 mm K-wires
  • 1.0, 1.2, or 1.4 mm cerclage wire or heavy suture material
open reduction tension band greater trochanter

2. Patient preparation and approach

Patient preparation

This procedure is normally performed with the patient in a lateral position.

open reduction headless screw fixation


The fracture fragment is approached with a lateral approach, the hematoma is evacuated and periosteum is cleared to allow accurate reduction of the fragment(s).

open reduction screw fixation greater trochanter

3. Reduction

The trochanteric fragment is directly reduced to its bed and the position confirmed using image intensification.

A towel clip may be used for temporary control, or a K-wire can be used to aid manipulation and to provide temporary fixation.

open reduction tension band greater trochanter

4. Fixation

K-wire placement

Two K-wires are placed superiorly in the trochanter. The trajectory should be perpendicular to the fracture line with one wire slightly anterior and the other slightly posterior. Tips of the wires should just perforate the dense bone of the medial calcar, if possible. The wires may be backed out to allow for later impaction.

If a temporary K-wire has been used, it can now be removed.

open reduction tension band greater trochanter

Preparation for wire insertion

An anterior to posterior hole is drilled through the lateral metaphysis of the proximal femur using a 2.0 or 2.5 mm drill bit.

open reduction tension band greater trochanter

Wire preparation and insertion

The cerclage wire is prepared by making a loop approximately one third along its length.

The shorter segment of the wire is inserted through the drill hole.

open reduction tension band greater trochanter

The long segment of the wire (bearing the loop) is passed in a figure-of-eight configuration, deep to the abductor tendon around the protruding ends of the K-wires.

Pearl: Passing this K-wire can be facilitated by initially inserting a 14-gauge Angiocath in the desired position, removing the metal needle, and passing the cerclage wire though the plastic cannula.

The cerclage wire ends are united with a little twist.

open reduction tension band greater trochanter

The wire ends are cut short.

The slack is then taken up by further twisting. This is repeated until the desired tension is achieved. Both loops must be tightened at the same time and in the same direction, in order to achieve equal tension on both arms of the wire.

By simultaneously tightening the twist and the loop with two pliers, the two fragments are drawn together such that the fracture is placed under compression.

Tightening the wire loops during repair of an avulsion of the greater trochanter with a tension band.

The twisted wire is trimmed and both ends turned towards the femur in order to prevent subsequent irritation of the soft tissues.

open reduction tension band greater trochanter

Sinking the K-wires

A plier, bending iron, and forceps are used to bend the K-wires through 180°.

The K-wires are then driven home, sinking their curved ends into the bone in order to prevent backing out.

31 m 7

Alternative: Cortical screw anchor

A 4.5 mm cortical screw can be used to anchor the cerclage wire distally.

open reduction tension band greater trochanter

Alternative: Nonresorbable suture

A nonresorbable suture can be used as a tension band instead of wires. This may be more suitable in younger patients.

open reduction tension band greater trochanter


Routine closure according to the surgeon's preference.

5. Aftercare


Range-of-movement exercises should start in the immediate postoperative period to prevent stiffness. Surgeons should indicate if any extremes of movement should be avoided.

Forces through the hip are less with toe-touch weight bearing than with non-weight bearing.

Crutch walking with toe-touch weight bearing should therefore be advised for 3–4 weeks.

This needs to be taught to children and supervised by a physiotherapist.

Abductor strengthening exercises can be started after 6–8 weeks if there are clinical and radiological signs of healing.

Protected weight bearing


See the additional material on postoperative infection.

Weight bearing

Having started with toe-touch weight bearing, children progress to partial weight bearing and then to full weight bearing according to their age and the predicted rate of healing of their fracture.

Even older adolescents should be fully weight bearing without aids at three months.


Swimming can be allowed as soon as partial weight bearing is permitted.

Contact sports should be avoided for at least six months.

Follow-up x-rays

X-rays are generally taken immediately after the surgery and at 6 and 12 weeks.

Implant removal

The fracture should be healed and consolidated prior to implant removal (see Healing times).

Implants in young children should always be removed to prevent them from being covered by bony overgrowth.

Implant removal is not compulsory in adolescents.