A Study Optimizes the Surgical Approach for a Femur Fracture

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October 10, 2019
Edward Smith

Study Optimizes Surgical Approach for Femur Fractures

Recently, a research paper was published exploring the most advantageous surgical approach for those who have been diagnosed with a specific type of femur fracture. The femur, one of the largest bones in the body, is divided into several parts. The distal femur is close to the knee. The femoral head articulates with the hip joint. The femoral neck is the thinnest part of the bone and rests underneath the femoral head. The femoral neck is joined to the distal femur by the femoral shaft.

In individuals over the age of 50, one of the most common locations for a femur fracture is the femoral neck. This is because the femoral neck is relatively thin and, thus, easier to fracture. These fractures can cause severe pain and can lead to major quality of life issues if not repaired correctly. This research paper explored the proper surgical approach to maximize patients’ chances of making a full recovery.

The Rate of Femoral Neck Fractures is Rising

The baby boomer population is continuing to age. This means that an increasingly large segment of the population is over the age of 50. As people age, their bone density starts to drop. Many individuals are diagnosed with osteoporosis, making them susceptible to bone fractures. Because of this, the rates of femoral neck fractures are rising. According to the researchers, more than 300,000 people over the age of 65 in the United States are hospitalized with a fracture of the femoral neck every year. These injuries are also a significant cause of mortality. Therefore, the researchers analyzed two separate surgical approaches in a head-to-head comparison.

A Direct Comparison of Two Separate Methods

Currently, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that individuals who have been diagnosed with a femoral neck fracture receive a total hip replacement. While this hip replacement offers individuals with optimal functionality, there are also concerns about significant complications following this procedure.

Some medical professionals believe that the surgical approach of a total hip replacement can increase the risk of hip dislocation. If someone suffers a hip dislocation, they might require a repeat surgical procedure. In addition, researchers believe that a total hip replacement has a higher risk of infection.

Therefore, the researchers designed a study to compare a total hip replacement (called an arthroplasty) with an alternate surgical approach called a hemiarthroplasty. In contrast to a total hip replacement, a hemiarthroplasty (or partial hip replacement) is a resurfacing of one part of the joint and is less invasive than a total hip replacement. Then, the researchers compared the two outcomes.

The Design of the Research Study

Over a nine-year period, the researchers followed close to 1,500 patients. These individuals were randomly assigned to receive either a total hip replacement or a partial hip placement. All of the patients were over the age of 50, and each patient was diagnosed with a displaced femoral neck fracture. For each surgical approach, the researchers tracked whether a second procedure was needed within 24 months, the mortality rate, the overall quality of life, and the development of complications in the leg or hip. After this, the researchers compared the numbers using statistical software to look for important trends and differences. Their results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Results of the Surgical Approach Comparison

Ultimately, the researchers noted that there were no statistically significant differences in most of the endpoints discussed above during the time period of the study. The functional outcome was slightly better in individuals who underwent a total hip replacement. In contrast, the rate of complications was also slightly higher in those who underwent a total hip replacement. This means that a partial hip replacement demonstrated comparable functional performance to a total hip replacement with an overall lower risk.

The results are important because they can help orthopedic surgeons take care of femoral neck fractures in the elderly. It is important to maximize the benefits of any surgical procedure while also minimizing the risks to the patient. This study helps doctors do that. Because partial hip replacements overall have a lower risk and perform well when compared to total arthroplasty,  more hemiarthroplasty procedures might be performed moving forward.

Sacramento Femur Fracture Lawyer 

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento femur fracture lawyer. It is important to have the right surgical approach when repairing a femur fracture. If an individual you know has been diagnosed with a substantial fracture of the femur due to the negligence of another person or entity, please contact me today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.

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Citation of Image: The image at the top was found first on Pixabay and has been printed here with permission under the Creative Commons License.

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