ORIF Distal Femur Fractures

Surgical treatment of Distal Femur Fractures

Surgical treatment is considered to realign the fractured bone. The use of advanced technology and special materials has improved the surgical outcome even in older patients. External or internal fixation or a knee replacement may be required depending on the extent of the fracture. Timing of the surgery is an important factor in improving the surgical outcome.

Timing of surgery

In most cases, the surgery is delayed for a few days to develop an effective treatment plan and for preparation of the patient. With most distal femur fractures the surgery can be delayed unless the fracture is open to the environment.

External fixator

An external fixator is used when the surrounding soft tissue is severely damaged, as the use of plates and screws may be harmful. The external fixator maintains the alignment of the bone till surgery.

Once the patient is prepared for surgery, the surgeon removes the external fixator and places internal fixation devices into the bone during surgery.

Internal fixator

The internal fixation may be performed using intramedullary nailing or plates and screws. In intramedullary nailing a metal rod is inserted into the marrow canal of the femur to keep the fractured fragment in position. In the plate and screw method the bone fragments are realigned and held together with screws and plates, attached to the outer surface of the bone. If the fracture is of the comminuted type or the bone has broken into many pieces, plates or rods may be used at the ends of the fracture without disturbing the smaller pieces. The plate or rod will maintain the shape or strength of the bone till it heals. In elderly patients and those with poor bone quality, bone grafting may be used to improve the healing. Knee replacement may also be considered in complicated fractures or those with poor bone quality.

Knee replacement

Artificial implants may be used to replace the fractured segments of the bone and joint.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation of the distal femur fracture depends upon several factors such as age, general health of the patient and the type of fracture. As the distal femur fracture usually involves the weight bearing joint it may cause long term problems such as loss of knee motion or instability and long-term arthritis. Hence a rehabilitation program is initiated along with the treatment comprising of instructions on weight bearing, knee movements, and the use of external devices such as braces.