Locked Plating in Femur Fractures: What Causes this Treatment to Fail?


Attorney Ed Smith

Locked Plating in Femur Fractures: What Causes this Treatment to Fail?

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. When suffer  from traumatic injuries, particularly as a result of an auto accident, it is important for people to understand their treatment options. Bone fractures, particularly long-bone fractures such as femur fractures and humerus shaft fractures, have multiple treatment options.

Locked Plating for Femur Fractures: The Gold Standard

Over the past few years, the locked plating system has become the go-to treatment option for femur fractures. For those who have not had locked plates used to repair a bone fracture, these plates are placed by orthopedic surgeons and use a variety of locking mechanisms to hold the plates both to each other and to the bone itself. The idea is that these plates will keep the bone fragments set in the proper position that the surgeon places them in, giving them an opportunity to heal properly. Because these plates have shown a strong rate of success since their inception, they have become more popular; however, it doesn’t mean that these plates don’t come with their own comorbidities and complications.

The Locked Plates have Modest Failure Rates

A paper was published in the Journal of Orthopedic Trauma recently that analyzed the rates of failure of the locked plating system in femur fractures. The goal of the study was to look at patients who had received this treatment for their femur fractures in the past and figure out why they might have failed. The definition of failure was reoperation, or a complication requiring the surgeon to perform a second operation to fix the fracture. Out of their patient population, close to 20 percent required a subsequent operation.

The Important Question is: Why?

While this information is important for patients who are going to require a locked plate to fix their femur fracture, it is more important to figure out why the implants have failed. The most important risk factors included open fractures, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and too short of a plate length. While these might also include product liability depending on the type of plate, most of the factors are out of control of the surgeons themselves. It is important for patients to take steps to address these risk factors because it could make a difference if they should require surgery one day. Obesity, diabetes, and smoking all damages the vascular system that provides key nutrients, such as oxygen, to parts of their body in time of need. Without these nutrients, the healing process slows and the patient could require another operation to repair their broken leg.

Contact an Experienced Bone Fracture Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Nobody expects their medical treatment to fail; however, it is important for patients to understand why it might. Those suffering from a fractured femur may reach out to me at (916) 921-6400 for friendly, free advice. Or, call me free of charge at (800) 404-5400.

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Photograph: Ed Smith, Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

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