Consensus and Equipose in the Management of Military Trainee Femoral Neck Stress Fractures: A Survey of Military Surgeons

Brandon H. Chung*, K. Aaron Shaw, Joseph S. Burke, Keith L. Jackson, Matthew R. Schmitz, Shawn Boomsma, Andrew P. Hurvitz, Colleen M. Moreland, Frederick P. O'Brien, Ivan J. Antosh, Jeannie Huh, Brian R. Waterman, Benjamin M. Wheatley, Benjamin K. Potter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Femoral neck stress fractures (FNSFs) are a unique injury pattern not commonly treated in the civilian trauma population; however, it is particularly high with military trainees engaged in basic combat training. To date, no study has surveyed a population of military orthopedic surgeons on treatment preferences for military service members (SMs) with FNSF. Questions: We aim to evaluate the extent of clinical equipoise that exists in the management of these injuries, hypothesizing that there would be consensus in the factors dictating surgical and non-surgical intervention for FNSF. Patients and Methods: A 27-question survey was created and sent to U.S. military orthopedic surgeon members of the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons. The survey was designed in order to gather the experience among surgeons in treating FNSF and identifying variables that play a role in the treatment algorithm for these patients. In addition, seven detailed, clinical vignettes were presented to further inquire on surgeon treatment preferences. Binomial distribution analysis was used to evaluate for common trends within the surgeon's treatment preferences. Results: Seventy orthopedic surgeons completed the survey, the majority of whom were on active duty status in the U.S. Military (82.86%) and having under 5 years of experience (61.43%). Majority of surgeons elected for a multiple screw construct (92.86%), however the orientation of the multiple screws was dependent on whether the fracture was open or closed. Management for compression-sided FNSF involving ≥50% of the femoral neck width, tension-sided FNSF, and stress fractures demonstrating fracture line progression had consensus for operative management. Respondents agreed upon prophylactic fixation of the contralateral hip if the following factors were involved: Complete fracture (98.57%), compression-sided fracture line >75% (88.57%), compression-sided fracture line >50-75% with hip effusion (88.57%), contralateral tension-sided fracture (87.14%), and compression-sided fracture line >50-75% (84.29%). An FNSF < 50% on the contralateral femoral neck or a hip effusion was indeterminate in surgeons indicating need for prophylactic fixation. Majority of surgeons (77.1%) utilized restricted toe-touch weight-bearing for postoperative mobility restrictions. Conclusions: Consensus exists for surgical and non-surgical management of FNSF by U.S. military orthopedic surgeons, despite the preponderance of surgeons reporting a low annual volume of FNSF cases treated. However, there are certain aspects in the operative and non-operative management of FNSF that are unanimously adhered to. Specifically, our results demonstrate that there is no clear indication on the management of FNSF when an associated hip effusion is involved. Additionally, the indications for surgically treating contralateral FNSF are unclear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E82-E89
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


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