Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research: January 2014 - Volume 472 - Issue 1 - p 360–367 doi: 10.1007/s11999-013-3245-7 Clinical Research

Randomized Trial of Hemiarthroplasty versus Internal Fixation for Femoral Neck Fractures: No Differences at 6 Years

Støen, Ragnhild, Øydna, MD1, 2, 3, a; Lofthus, Cathrine, M., MD, PhD4; Nordsletten, Lars, MD, PhD1, 2; Madsen, Jan, Erik, MD, PhD1, 2; Frihagen, Frede, MD, PhD1, 2, 3

Background Hemiarthroplasty has been shown superior to internal fixation for displaced femoral neck fractures (FNF) in the first 2 years. However, there are unanswered questions about the performance of hemiarthroplasty over the longer term compared with internal fixation.


Questions/purposes We sought to compare hemiarthroplasty with internal fixation in terms of (1) outcomes scores for pain, hip function, and quality of life at a minimum of 5 years after surgery in a randomized trial. A secondary purpose was to compare (2) patient survival and (3) frequency of reoperation in the two groups.


Methods A total of 222 consecutive patients older than 60 years, including those cognitively impaired, with FNF were randomized to either internal fixation with two parallel screws or bipolar hemiarthroplasty. At a minimum followup of 4.9 years (mean, 5.9 years; range, 4.9-7.2 years), 68 of the 70 surviving patients were examined by a study nurse and study physiotherapist blinded to initial treatment. Questionnaires on hip function (Harris hip score), quality of life (Eq5D), and activity of daily living function (Barthel ADL) were administered. The Barthel ADL index score was split into good function (score 95 or 100) and reduced function (score below 95).


Results The mean survival of the groups was similar with 66.4% (73 of 110) of the patients undergoing hemiarthroplasty and 70.5% (79 of 112) of the patients undergoing internal fixation having died since surgery (p = 0.51). Only 12 of 31 living patients in the internal fixation group had retained their native hips at a mean of 6 years. Between 2 and 6 years, there were two new major reoperations (both in the internal fixation group, for avascular necrosis and deep wound infection). The mean Harris hip score was 66 (SD 19) and 67 (SD 20) in the internal fixation and hemiarthroplasty groups, respectively (p = 0.96). The mean Eq5D index was 0.50 (SD 0.40) in the internal fixation group and 0.34 (SD 0.36) in the hemiarthroplasty group (p = 0.10). Function in terms of ADLs was comparable between the groups; of the patients in the internal fixation group, 42% reported good function on the Barthel ADL index, and the corresponding number in the hemiarthroplasty group was 51% (p = 0.44).


Conclusions Hemiarthroplasty has predictable and good long-term results after FNF and is the treatment of choice compared with internal fixation. Further studies will evaluate if total hip arthroplasty has advantages over hemiarthroplasty in patients with fracture with long life expectancy.


Level of Evidence Level II, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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