Elastic stable intramedullary nailing (ESIN) has became a well-accepted method of osteosynthesis of diaphyseal fractures in children and adolescents for many reasons including the following: no need for postoperative cast, primary bone union with avoidance of growth plate injury, and minimum invasive surgery.
The principle is to introduce 2 elastic nails, titanium or stainless steel, into the medullary canal through a metaphyseal approach. The bended nails must have their maximum of curve at the level of the fracture, and their orientation, most often face to face, is in charge of the reduction and, so far, the stabilization, of the fracture. The usual size of the nails is equal to 0.4 times the diameter of the medullary canal. As far as possible, a bigger diameter is better than a thinner one. Most fractures of the femur are treated with a bipolar retrograde ESIN when some distal fractures need an antegrade subtrochanteric approach. Forearm fractures need a combined retrograde radial and antegrade ulnar through the posterolateral part of the olecranon. Humerus and tibial diaphyseal fractures may also be treated with ESIN. Complications are mainly caused by technical errors including too-thin nails, asymmetry of the frame, and malorientation of the implants. Nonunion was never observed in fractures of the femur and the forearm; osteomyelitis rate is 2%, and mean overgrowth of the femur is less than 10 mm before the age of 10 years. Indications of ESIN are fractures of the diaphysis: all the fractures of the femur between the age of 6 years and the end of growth except for the severe open grade III fractures, all the unstable fractures of the forearm, and some unstable fractures of the humerus and the tibia during adolescence or before the end of growth. In addition, ESIN is indicated in polytraumatism and multiple injuries.
The good results of this reliable technique are obtained when surgeons have a good knowledge of it, especially in the understanding of the principle of the correction of the fracture and its stability.