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Authors of section


Derek Donegan, Michael Huo, Michael Leslie

Executive editor

Michael Baumgaertner

Open all credits

Compression plate and screw fixation

1. Principles

Unstable simple fractures around or distal to stable femoral stems are amendable to traditional compression plating techniques.

The goal is to create a stable environment for the arthroplasty and for the femoral diaphysis.

These fractures include:

  • Short oblique
  • Spiral
  • Transverse
Compression plate and screw fixation in hip periprosthetic fractures

2. Approach

Direct lateral approach

Direct lateral approach to the femoral diaphysis is typically utilized. This can be performed in a minimally invasive fashion for some fracture patterns and proximal and/or distal extension of deep surgical approach can be utilized in a fracture specific manner.

Direct lateral approach

Positioning for direct lateral approach

This approach can be performed in the supine or lateral position.
If there is any suspicion of prosthetic loosening that may be discovered intraoperatively, the surgeon should position the patient for a potential revision arthroplasty.

Other approaches

Other approaches that can be used to perform this procedure are:

These approaches can be performed with the patient in a lateral or supine position.

Option: use of a radiolucent or fracture specific table

A radiolucent table or a fracture specific table may be used.

The choice depends on surgeon experience and preference. The control of the fracture may often be more difficult on a traction table.

Supine position on a radiolucent table

3. Reduction

Direct reduction

Reduction is typically carried out using a combination of direct and indirect methods. Limb manipulation will help in an indirect manner. Direct reduction with clearance of fracture hematoma and stabilization with pointed bone reduction clamps can then be completed.

The Collinear reduction clamp can be extremely helpful in facilitating reduction. It is applied from the direct lateral incision with proximal extension.

Direct reduction

For short oblique or spiral fractures, provisional wire stabilization can be extremely helpful. Care must be taken to avoid applying wires in the pathway of planned definitive stabilization.

Provisional wire stabilization for short oblique fracture

Option: traction aids

The reduction can be facilitated with manual traction and/or distal femoral skeleton traction.

Skeletal traction may be placed in the distal femur or the proximal tibia, depending on surgeon's preference. However, the distal femur is much more effective in facilitating direct reduction of periprosthetic femur fractures.

Skeletal traction of the distal femur

Note: Traction in osteoporotic patients should be used with caution, because it may injure the patient. In case of severe osteoporosis, this may result in the traction pin pulling through the bone into the knee joint.
Traction in osteoporotic patients

4. Fixation

Implant selection

Fixation can be achieved with either lag screw and neutralization or traditional compression plate technique.

Femoral plate length should be three times the length of the fracture zone and care should be taken to prophylactically prevent future fracture either in between implants or at the end of the zone of fixation.

Fixation with compression plate and screw

The femur has a sagittal bow and proximal or distal fixation may be desired. If available, a precontoured or anatomic plate should be selected.

Precontoured and anatomic plate

Compression plate application

The plate is applied on the lateral cortex of the femur.

Compression plate application

A screw is applied to create an axilla.

First screw application

A compression screw is applied at the other side in compression mode to achieve fracture compression.

For more details regarding compression plates please refer to the dedicated section of the distal femur in the AO Surgery Reference.

Compression screw application

Options for additional stability

Additional stabilization can be achieved with locking and nonlocking screw fixation above and below the fracture site.

If there is no room for bicortical screw fixation, different options may be used around the femoral stem:

  1. Unicortical locking screw fixation
  2. Cerclage cables integrated into the plate
  3. Locking attachment plate
Note: Attachment plates require small fragment locking screw fixation

For additional details on these implants please refer to adjunct plate options.

Options for additional stability

Fractures at the tip of the stem

If the fracture is at the tip of the stem of a well-fixed prosthesis, fracture compression may be achieved with a different technique.

Fractures at the tip of the stem

The bone is removed from the tip of the stem with a rongeur or a high-speed burr.

Note: This technique will result in a shortening of the extremity but will avoid the morbidity of femoral stem revision.
Bone is removed from the tip of the stem

The stem is inserted into the distal femoral portion and compression applied utilizing standard techniques over the top of the tip of the prosthesis.

Stem inserted into the distal femoral portion

5. Aftercare following ORIF

Postoperative management

Postoperative management should include careful monitoring of hematocrit and electrolytes particularly in the elderly patients.

Postoperative IV antibiotics should be administered up to 24 hours.

Consideration should be given to anticoagulation for a minimal course of 35 days. If there are thromboembolic complication this treatment is extended.

Drains can be discontinued when output is less than 30 to 50 cc per 12 hours.

Patient mobilization

Immediate mobilization of the patient should commence. If fracture stability will allow, the patient should be made weight bearing as tolerated as soon as possible. Long periods of limited weight bearing are extremely detrimental to patient recovery.

Patient mobilization with limited weight bearing

Wound healing

Avoidance of edema postoperatively is critical for both wound healing and patient mobilization. This can be aided by pneumatic compression devices. If negative pressure wound therapy is utilized, it can be discontinued after 5 to 7 days. Staples or sutures are typically removed at 14 to 21 days.

Pneumatic compression device