To compare operative and postoperative variables in the treatment of femur fractures using interlocked intramedullary nails with and without reaming.

Prospective and randomized.

81 consecutive patients with femur fractures treated with a stainless steel statically locked intramedullary nail. Whether or not reaming was done was randomized. There were 42 nails placed without reaming and 39 placed with reaming. There were no demographic differences between the two groups. Intraoperative and postoperative variables were studied. Interval healing was assessed by one observer on bimonthly radiographs.

There were more intraoperative technical complications in the group without reaming. There was no statistical difference in operative time, transfusion requirement, or time to union between the groups. In the reamed group callus formation occurred faster and there was slightly more blood loss (247 cc vs. 396 cc) (p < 0.05). However, when distal fractures were analyzed separately, the time to union was faster in the reamed group (< 0.05). Two patients in the unreamed group and none in the reamed group developed delayed unions. Pulmonary complications occurred in two patients, one in each group and did not appear to be related to the nailing.

Reamed canal preparation led to faster healing of distal fractures treated with statically locked intramedullary nails. Blood loss was greater in the reamed group but this did not translate into increased transfusion requirements. In this series, there was no advantage to nail insertion without reaming.