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CT scans better assess lateral wall morphology of “stable appearing” intertrochanteric (IT) femur fractures and predict early failure of sliding hip screw (SHS) fixation


To compare the efficacy of plain x-ray images and computed tomography (CT) to assess the morphology of the lateral wall (LW) component of intertrochanteric (IT) femur fractures and determine predictors of early fixation failure.


Retrospective cohort study.


Level-one trauma center.


One hundred forty-two adult patients with IT fractures treated with either a sliding hip screw (SHS) or a cephalomedullary nail (CMN) who had both pre-op plain x-ray images and CT scans with at least 6 weeks of follow-up were reviewed.


Preoperative CT scan and plain radiographs of the affected hip.

Main outcome measurements

Lateral wall assessment based on plain x-rays versus CT imaging in relation to implant failure.


One hundred forty-two patients met inclusion criteria, 105 patients treated with a CMN, and 37 with a SHS. There was a poor correlation between the assessment of the LW on plain x-ray images and CT scans. Failures in the SHS group were significantly associated with all CT measurements (P < .05) but not with plain film LW assessment (P = .66). Fifteen patients had an early implant failure (6 CMN, 9 SHS). There were no statistically significant associations between any radiographic measurement (plain images and CT) and CMN failures.


Plain film images are not accurate for assessing lateral wall morphology/integrity and are not predictive of SHS implant failures. Our novel CT measurements were effective at detecting lateral wall patterns at risk for treatment failure with SHS implants.Level of Evidence: Level III.

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