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screws in femur bone crack

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my husband broke his femur bone in pieces and has 2 srews on top with a rod and 2 screws in the bottom near the knee since febuary, and today we went to the doctor and they said that the crews in the bottoms crack,,, and they also said that the bone hasnt healed yet but from 85% of weight bearing to 0% weight bearing..cause they dont want to rod to move.... is that harmful or anyone who has been through this plz help
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replied June 18th, 2011
Especially eHealthy

I'm not sure if you mean that the screws have broken, or the bone has fractured at the site of the screws. But, it really doesn't matter.

The intramedullary rod (nail) is placed as an internal splint, so the patient can get up and moving rather than being in traction for 3 or 4 months. The screws placed proximal (near the hip) and distally (near the knee) are there to keep the bone out to length and to keep in from rotating. At this point the bone is probably healed enough that there is little risk of it shortening or turning, as long as not a lot of weight is put on it. If the fracture was not healed enough, then there would be a possibility that the rod could be pushed down into the knee joint with any stress. That is why the surgeon has stop the weight bearing, but is not required to do another surgery to replace the screws.

It is always a race with internal fixation of fractures, to see what happens first; the fracture healing or the hardware breaking. There is cyclic loading of the hardware, as the patient uses the bone that has been fixed. With repeated bending the metal will eventually break, just like a paperclip that is bent back and forth.

Hopefully, the femur will heal enough in the near future, that your husband will be able to start weight bearing again. In the mean time, make sure that the hip and knee maintain their range of motion. You do not want them to get stiff.

Good luck.
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