Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hip FAQ

Question:

My wife and I are snowbirds. We winter in Florida and summer in Idaho. She broke her hip while we were in Idaho. The next year I broke my hip while in Florida. We both had surgery to repair the damage. Her surgeon put in a plate and sliding compression screw (so he tells us). My surgeon used a screw through a short nail. What's the difference and why didn't they do the surgery in the same way?

Answer:

As you've discovered, there are different ways to repair a broken hip. This is based on a number of different factors. The location and type of fracture are two of the first and most important deciding factors.

Surgeon training, experience, and preference are also considerations. For example, younger orthopedic surgeons are more likely to use the nail and interlocking screw system. Older surgeons stick with the sliding compression hip screws.

The patient's health and condition of the bones are two more variables. The presence of osteoporosis can make a difference in which type of fixation method is used. Some types of fixation implants are more likely to cause fracture as a complication. The surgeon does everything possible to avoid this additional problem.

And finally, there's even a difference in how things are done from geographic area to area in the U.S. A review by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery showed that newer methods of practice tend to show up first in the southeast, south, and southwest regions. The northwest is often the last place to adopt new practice patterns.

No one is quite sure why surgeons in the South convert to new technologies faster than in the North and Midwest. It may be based on age of patients and/or the age of the surgeon. Research is ongoing to compare different approaches and find out which method works the best regardless of where a patient lives when the procedure is needed. Jeffrey O. Anglen, MD, and James N. Weinstein, DO. Nail or Plate Fixation of Intertrochanteric Hip Fractures: Changing Pattern of Practice. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. April 2008. Vol. 90-A. No. 4. Pp. 700-707.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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