Clinical and radiographic outcomes of femoral head fractures associated with traumatic hip dislocations

Michael A. Del Core, Bruno Gross, Junho Ahn, Stephen Blake Wallace, Adam Starr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Femoral head fractures are an uncommon but severe injury. These high-energy injuries typically occur in association with traumatic hip dislocations. Initial treatment includes urgent concentric reduction; however, controversy exists regarding specific fracture management. The well-known complications of avascular necrosis (AVN), posttraumatic arthritis (PTA), and heterotrophic ossification can leave patients with a significant functional loss of their affected hip. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the clinical and radiographic outcomes of femoral head fractures. Methods: A retrospective review was performed at our institution assessing all patients who presented from 2007 to 2015 with a femoral head fracture associated with a hip dislocation and at least 6 months of clinical and radiographic follow-up. Twenty-two patients met our inclusion criteria. There were 15 males and 7 females with an average age of 36 years (range: 17–55). The average follow-up time was 18 months (range: 6–102). Fractures were classified according to the Pipkin classification. The Thompson and Epstein score was used to determine functional outcomes. Results: There were five, Pipkin I, 3 Pipkin II, 0 Pipkin III, and 14 Pipkin IV, femoral head fractures. Sixteen patients were successfully closed reduced in the emergency department (ED) and six patients required open reduction after failed reduction in the ED. Four patients (18%) were successfully treated with closed reduction alone and 18 patients (82%) required operative intervention. Of those undergoing operative intervention, one patient underwent excision of the femoral head fragment, seven underwent open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) of the femoral head, nine underwent ORIF of the acetabulum, and one underwent ORIF of the femoral head and the acetabulum. Nine patients (41%) had an uneventful postoperative course. Two patients (9%) developed AVN, both requiring total hip arthroplasty (THA). Five patients (23%) developed PTA, two eventually requiring a THA. Two patients (9%) had sciatic nerve palsy. One patient (5%) developed a postoperative infection and four patients (18%) developed heterotrophic ossification (HO), none requiring operative treatment. Two patients (9%) had persistent anterolateral (AL) thigh numbness. Overall functional results were excellent in six patients (27%), good in six (27%), fair in seven (32%), and poor in three patients (14%). Four patients (18%) required a THA. Conclusion: Femoral head fractures are a rare injury with well-known complications. Early diagnosis and concentric reduction are the prerequisites for successful treatment. This study adds to the growing literature on femoral head fractures associated with hip dislocations in efforts to define treatment plans and to guide patient expectations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-10
Number of pages5
JournalStrategies in Trauma and Limb Reconstruction
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Avascular necrosis
  • Complication
  • Femoral head fracture
  • Heterotrophic ossification
  • Hip dislocation
  • Outcome
  • Pipkin
  • Posttraumatic arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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