Comparison of Lateral Versus Medial Entry Femoral Traction Pin Complication Rates


Distal femoral skeletal traction is a common procedure for the stabilization of fractures of the pelvis, acetabulum, and femur following trauma. Femoral traction pins are traditionally inserted via medial-to-lateral (MTL) entry to accurately direct the pin away from the medial neurovascular bundle. Alternatively, cadaveric studies have demonstrated low risk to the neurovascular bundle using a lateral-to-medial (LTM) approach. The purpose of this study was to compare the incidence of complications of LTM and MTL femoral traction pin placement at a single institution. This was a retrospective review of patients from the orthopaedic consult registry at a academic Level I Trauma Center. We identified 233 LTM femoral traction pin procedures in 231 patients and 29 MTL pin procedures in 29 patients. The two pin placement techniques were compared with respect to complications, specifically the incidence of neurovascular injury, cellulitis, septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, and heterotopic ossification after femoral traction pin placement. Two complications were reported. One patient developed heterotopic ossification along the pin tract after LTM traction pin placement. Another patient developed septic arthritis after LTM pin placement, likely a!ributable to retrograde intramedullary nailing of his open femur fracture rather than his traction pin. There were no reports of neurovascular injury, cellulitis, or osteomyelitis associated with pin placement. The complication rate was 0.9% for LTM group and 0.0% for MTL group (p = 0.616). LTM femoral traction pin placement is a safe procedure with a similarly low complication rate compared with traditional MTL placement when the limb is positioned in neutral alignment. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 32(4):259-262, 2023)

Key words: traction pin, complications, trauma, femur fracture

SKU: JSOA-2023-32-4-6 Categories: , Tags: , , ,

T. David Luo, MD; S. Hanif Hussaini, MD; Nicholas A. Andring, MD; Erin A. Kelly, MD; Eben A. Carroll, MD; and Jason J. Halvorson, MD