The management of intracapsular hip fractures in the ‘young elderly’ internal fixation or total hip replacement ?

Published online: Feb 28 2012


From Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, Norwich, U.K.


There is a lack of consensus about how to treat intracapsular hip fractures in the ‘young elderly’ (50-75 years). Evidence for older more mobile patients seems to point towards Internal Fixation (IF) for undisplaced fractures and Total Hip Replacement (THR) for displaced fractures.

Radiographs of 263 patients from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, who have suffered an intracapsular hip fracture between 2000-2009 were reviewed. The complication and mortality rates were noted. A Hip function questionnaire (Oxford hip score (OHS)) and Numeric pain score (NPS) were sent out to patients, then methods of treatment (IF and THR) were compared.
In displaced fractures THR compared favourably to IF, OHS (16.0 vs. 20.0 p 0.029), NPS (2.0 vs. 4.0 p 0.007), complications (Odds Ratio (OR) 2.90 ; p 0.006) and death rate (OR 3.61 ; p 0.007). Although not statistically significant when stratified for age, the youngest age group (50-60) still achieved better function with a THR (13.0 vs. 18.0 ; p 0.129). There was little difference in the results for undisplaced fractures.

This retrospective cross-sectional study showed IF is associated with a much higher complication rate than THR for patients who sustained a displaced hip fracture. THR also showed a better functional outcome and reduced pain. IF should be used in undisplaced fractures as there was no difference in functional outcome or complication rate. A large randomised controlled trial is needed to confirm these results.