The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 32, Issue 1, 202 - 206

Open Reduction vs Distal Femoral Replacement Arthroplasty for Comminuted Distal Femur Fractures in the Patients 70 Years and Older

Hart, Gavin P. et al.


The ideal management of distal femur fractures in the elderly is unclear. Acute arthroplasty has the theoretical advantage of earlier mobilization. We examined the outcomes of patients 70 years and older who underwent open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) vs distal femoral replacement (DFR) for comminuted, intra-articular distal femur fractures.


A retrospective review of patients with AO/OTA classification 33C distal femur fractures treated with either ORIF or DFR was performed. Outcomes including all-cause reoperation, length of stay, fracture union, postoperative complications, use of ambulatory device and living situation at 1 year, and mortality were evaluated.


The study cohort included 38 patients: 10 underwent DFR and 28 ORIF. Mean patient age for both cohorts was 82 years. No difference in comorbidities or mechanism of injury was found between groups. The incidence of reoperation was 11% in the ORIF group and 10% in the DFR group. In the ORIF group, the average time to fracture union was 24 weeks, with a nonunion incidence of 18%. Twenty-three percent of ORIF group were wheelchair dependent vs none in the DFR cohort, although not statistically significant. Differences between the groups with respect to all-cause reoperation, living situation or need for ambulatory device at 1 year, and 1-year mortality did not reach statistical significance.


Nearly 1 in 5 patients older than 70 years developed a nonunion after ORIF of an intra-articular distal femur fracture. At 1-year follow-up, all patients in DFR group were ambulatory while 1 in 4 in the ORIF group were wheelchair bound.

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