The intramedullary nail or rod is commonly used for long-bone fracture fixation and has become the standard treatment of most long-bone diaphyseal and selected metaphyseal fractures. To best understand use of the intramedullary nail, a general knowledge of nail biomechanics and biology is helpful. These implants are introduced into the bone remote to the fracture site and share compressive, bending, and torsional loads with the surrounding osseous structures. Intramedullary nails function as internal splints that allow for secondary fracture healing. Like other metallic fracture fixation implants, a nail is subject to fatigue and can eventually break if bone healing does not occur. Intrinsic characteristics that affect nail biomechanics include its material properties, cross-sectional shape, anterior bow, and diameter. Extrinsic factors, such as reaming of the medullary canal, fracture stability (comminution), and the use and location of locking bolts also affect fixation biomechanics. Although reaming and the insertion of intramedullary nails can have early deleterious effects on endosteal and cortical blood flow, canal reaming appears to have several positive effects on the fracture site, such as increasing extraosseous circulation, which is important for bone healing.



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