Treatment of diaphyseal nonunion of the femur and tibia using an expandable nailing system

Ely L. Steinberg, Ori Keynan, Amir Sternheim, Michael Drexler, Elhanan Luger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Introduction: We evaluated the efficacy of the expandable nailing system for treating femur and tibia shaft nonunions. Patients and methods: Records of 24 patients (25 fractures) were retrospectively reviewed: 16 with femur and 8 with tibia nonunions. The bones underwent reaming, and the largest possible nail sizes were inserted during re-operation. Bone debris obtained from the reaming was used for bone graft at the site of the nonunion. Results: The mean age of the patients was 32 years for the tibia group and 49 years for the femur group. The respective intervals between trauma and re-operation were 11 and 13 months, the operation times 60 and 78 min, and the fluoroscopy times 21 and 32 s. Twenty-four of the 25 nonunions healed satisfactorily without requiring additional procedures. In 1 case, demineralised bone matrix was injected percutaneously and the femoral nonunion resolved. Healing time was 23 weeks (6-52) and 17 weeks (6-40) in the tibia and femur groups, respectively. We were able to reduce the need of an autologous bone graft to only two cases by using reamed debris in 17 of the 19 patients who required grafting. Conclusions: Our results demonstrated satisfactory healing for the treatment of diaphyseal nonunions of the femur and tibia. The expandable nail offers the theoretical advantages of improved load sharing and rotational control without the need for interlocking screws. We recommend expandable nail systems for femur and tibia shaft nonunions and the use of reamed debris in order to decrease the use of autogenous bone graft.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-314
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Expandable nails
  • Femur and tibia nonunion
  • Reamed bone debris
  • Reaming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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