Prevalence of pathological neck of femur fractures in patients undergoing arthroplasty at a tertiary referral hospital
Keywords:femoral head histology, pathological fracture, neck of femur fracture, metastases, hip arthroplasty
Background: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of pathological neck of femur (NOF) fractures at a tertiary referral hospital through histological examination of specimens in all NOF fracture patients undergoing hip arthroplasty. A secondary aim was to determine whether the current practice of sending all femoral heads for histological evaluation, to avoid missing unsuspected malignancies, is financially warranted.
Methods: A retrospective folder review of patients who underwent arthroplasty for NOF fractures was conducted. Patients with suspected pathological fractures were managed by the divisional Bone Tumour Unit while fragility traumatic fractures were managed by the Arthroplasty Unit. All femoral heads were sent for histological analysis regardless of suspicion of pathological fracture. Quotes from the public and private sector were sought to determine cost implications of sending femoral head specimens for histology.
Results: A total of 311 patients were included. Of these, 11 patients (4%) had suspected pathological fractures, with fragility/traumatic fractures being diagnosed in the remaining 300 patients (97%). Histology results were available for 195 patients (63%), including all the patients with suspected pathological fractures. No unexpected malignant histological results were observed, while nine of the suspected pathological fracture group had pathological fractures, confirmed with histology.
Conclusion: Pathological lesions were identified in 3% of patients undergoing arthroplasty for NOF fractures in our population, which is higher than other reports in the literature. Routine histological screening of femoral heads to exclude pathological fracture might not be necessary and cost effective, as pathological lesions can accurately be identified by clinical and radiographic evaluation.
Level of evidence: Level 4