The goals of this study were to define the risk factors, characteristics, and chronology of fractures in 5417 revision total hip arthroplasties (THAs).

From our hospital's prospectively collected database we identified all patients who had undergone a revision THA between 1969 and 2011 which involved the femoral stem. The patients' medical records and radiographs were examined and the relevant data extracted. Post-operative periprosthetic fractures were classified using the Vancouver system. A total of 5417 revision THAs were identified.

There were 668 intra-operative fractures, giving an incidence of 12%. Fractures were three times more common with uncemented stems (19%) than with cemented stems (6%) (p < 0.001). The incidence of intra-operative femoral fracture varied by uncemented stem type: fully-coated (20%); proximally-coated (19%); modular fluted tapered (16%) (p < 0.05). Most fractures occurred during the insertion of the femoral component (35%). One-third involved the diaphysis and 26% were of the calcar: 69% were undisplaced. There were 281 post-operative fractures of the femur (20-year probability = 11%). There was no difference in risk for cemented and uncemented stems. Post-operative fractures were more common in men < 70 years (p = 0.02). Periprosthetic fractures occurred earlier after uncemented revision of the femoral component, but later after a cemented revision. The most common fracture type was a Vancouver B1 (31%). Of all post-operative fractures, 24% underwent open reduction and internal fixation and 15% revision arthroplasty.

In revision THA, intra-operative fractures occurred three times more often with an uncemented stem. Many were undisplaced diaphyseal fractures treated with cerclage fixation. While the risk of post-operative fracture is similar between uncemented and cemented components, they occur at notably different times depending on the type of stem fixation.

In revision THA, intra-operative periprosthetic femoral fractures occur three times more often with uncemented stems. Many are non-displaced diaphyseal fractures treated with cerclage fixation. While postoperative fracture risks are equivalent between uncemented and cemented components, they occur at notably different time periods based on stem fixation type.

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