A broken thighbone, also known as a femur fracture, is a serious and painful injury. The femur is one of the strongest bones in the body, and a break or fracture in the femur bone is often caused by severe injury such as trauma sustained in a motor vehicle accident. After a fracture, an intramedullary rod may be used to realign and stabilize the femur bone to promote healing. Also known as intramedullary nailing, this is a common treatment for a femur shaft fracture and involves reconnecting the two ends of the bone and holding them in place with a metal rod. The rod is held in place with screws placed above and below the fracture. This procedure promotes proper healing, as the bone is restored to its normal position.
Benefits of Intramedullary Rodding
The intramedullary rod creates an internal splint to support the bones as they heal. Benefits of the intramedullary rodding procedure may include:
- Durable and flexible support of the leg
- Exact alignment of bones
- Earlier weight bearing on the leg
- Faster healing
For some individuals, the intramedullary rod assists with earlier motion of the joints, which in turn, reduces stiffness.
The Intramedullary Rodding Procedure
During the intramedullary rodding procedure, bones or bone fragments are repositioned into their normal positions. The surgeon then inserts a specially designed metal rod into the center of the bone and the rod passes through the fracture to keep it in position. A small incision is made and a titanium rod is inserted into the canal of the bone either at the hip or the knee, and it is screwed to the bone with titanium screws at both ends. The Intramedullary rod helps to keep the bone in proper position during healing.
Risks of Intramedullary Rodding
Although it is considered a safe and routine procedure, there are risks associated with intramedullary rodding that may include:
- Blood clots
- Injury to nerves or blood vessels
- Bones not aligning properly
- Delayed healing of the bone
In some cases, the rod or screws may irritate the muscles and tendons in the area.
Results and Recovery from Intramedullary Rodding
The intramedullary rod works together with the bone to help support the weight of the body, allowing individuals to resume movement and activity of the leg much faster than with other treatments. A physical therapy program can also help the patient regain strength and range of motion while the injury heals. In most cases, the intramedullary rod remains in the femur forever, providing long-term support. However, in cases where the rod causes pain or discomfort, it may be surgically removed.