Acute complications associated with removal of flexible intramedullary femoral rods placed for pediatric femoral shaft fractures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons position statement on the treatment of pediatric femoral shaft fractures could not comment on the safety of flexible intramedullary (IM) rod removal because of a lack of published evidence. This study reviews the acute complications of flexible IM rod removal from pediatric patients treated for femoral shaft fractures. METHODS: A retrospective clinical and radiographic analysis at a single institution over a 5-year period. Demographic and radiographic parameters were analyzed to determine their influence on intraoperative and immediate postoperative complications. RESULTS: One hundred sixty-three subjects (133 males, 30 females), mean age of 9.3±2.8 years (range, 2.7 to 14.8 y) and mean weight of 34.4±15.3 kg (range, 14.0 to 139.0 kg), underwent femoral flexible IM rod removal a mean 12.4±10.8 months (range, 2.4 to 63.8 mo) after placement with mean operative time of 51.1±22.3 minutes (range, 10 to 131 min). One hundred fifty-one subjects (92.6%) had stainless-steel Ender rods and the remaining nails were titanium. There were no significant demographic, intraoperative, or radiographic differences comparing subjects with Ender versus titanium rods. Indications for rod removal were pain at insertion site, family request, or surgeon's recommendation. There were 4 (2.5%) minor intraoperative difficulties, including the inability to remove 1 of 2 rods secondary to IM migration (n=1) and complete bone overgrowth at insertion site resulting in prolonged extraction time (n=3). Three of the 4 subjects had the rods placed >60 months before removal. Immediately postoperative (n=134), there were 4 (3.0%) complications, including superficial wound infection (n=3, 2.2%) and knee contracture (n=1, 0.8%). Subjects were released to full activities at a mean 4.7±1.8 weeks postoperatively with no known postoperative fractures. CONCLUSIONS: The rate of intraoperative and immediate postoperative complications is low. Neither patient demographics, fracture characteristics, nor operative technique influenced the complication rate. Intraoperative difficulties may be minimized with removal of rods before signs of overgrowth. LEVELS OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, intervention case series

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Ender rods
  • flexible intramedullary rods
  • pediatric femur fractures
  • removal of intramedullary rods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Acute complications associated with removal of flexible intramedullary femoral rods placed for pediatric femoral shaft fractures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this