To assess the potential impact of using cerclage cables or wires when undertaking fixation of unstable intertrochanteric and subtrochanteric fractures.
Patients were identified from a validated hospital database which included patients from all trauma units within Northern Ireland from 2008 to 2015. The primary outcome measure was return to theatre for any reason. Secondary outcome measures included quality of reduction, tip–apex distance, length of stay, mortality at 3 and 12 months and functional outcomes assessed by Barthel Index and mobility.
465 patients were included (157 in the cerclage/wire group and 308 without). Mean age of 79.6 years, with 330 females and 135 males. There was no statistical difference between the groups in relation to baseline demographics and risk factors for complications. 24 patients required further surgery, 13 (8.3%) in the cerclage group and 11 (3.6%) in those without (p < 0.03). Cabling of intertrochanteric fractures resulted in further surgery in 9.1% versus 3.4% without. Quality of reduction was improved in the cerclage group (p < 0.01), however improvements were less noticeable in intertrochanteric fractures (32.3% classified as good) compared to subtrochanteric fractures (52.4% good). Length of stay was longer in the cerclage group (p < 0.01). No differences were noted in mortality, Barthel score or mobility at 3 and 12 months.
Cerclage cables/wires can augment fixation in subtrochanteric fractures with potential benefits including improving quality of reduction. Evidence for their use in intertrochanteric fractures is much more contentious and we would advise they only be used where a definite improvement in reduction can be obtained with the minimum number possible.