Long versus short cephalomedullary nail for trochanteric femur fractures (OTA 31-A1, A2 and A3): a systematic review

John Dunn*, Nicholas Kusnezov, Julia Bader, Brian R. Waterman, Justin Orr, Philip J. Belmont

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: Both long and short cephalomedullary nails (CMN) may be used to treat trochanteric femur fractures. The objective of this paper was to compare the clinical outcomes between long and short CMN in the treatment of trochanteric hip fractures. Materials and methods: A literature search was performed, identifying 135 papers; 4 of which met inclusion and exclusion criteria. Papers included were those that compared cohorts of long and short nails for stable trochanteric femur fractures of level III evidence or superior. Data was pooled and analyzed, focusing on reoperation rate, secondary femoral shaft fracture rate, estimated blood loss, transfusion rate, operative time and length of stay. Results: Included in the analysis were 1276 patients, with 438 short and 838 long CMN. The average age was 82.0 years for short CMN and 79.0 years for long CMN (P = 0.0002). The average follow up was 18 months, 46 % were male, and 71 % had an ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists score) classification ≥3. The rate of reoperation was 5.0 % and 3.8 % for short and long CMN, respectively (P = 0.31). The rate of refracture was 1.6 % and 0.95 % for short and long CMN, respectively (P = 0.41). As compared to long nails, short nails had an average blood loss of 39 mL less (P = 0.0003), an 8.8 % decrease in transfusion rate (P = 0.07), and incurred 19 min less operative time (P < 0.0001). No significant differences between short and long nails were observed for either other complications, hardware complications, non-union, or mortality. Conclusions: For trochanteric femur fractures, short CMN have a low reoperation rate while significantly decreasing operative time and estimated blood loss with the additional benefit of being cost effective. Level of evidence: Level 3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-367
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cephalomedullary nail
  • Hip fracture
  • Hospital cost
  • Reoperation


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