Subtrochanteric Hip Fracture

Understanding Subtrochanteric Hip Fractures

A subtrochanteric hip fracture occurs between the lesser trochanter and a point approximately 5 centimeters below it. This type of fracture is classified based on its specific location, and it presents distinct challenges in diagnosis and treatment.

Anatomy of Subtrochanteric Hip Fractures

The femur, or thighbone, features bony processes known as the greater and lesser trochanters. A subtrochanteric fracture occurs below the lesser trochanter. It is categorized into three types based on its precise location:

  • Type I: Located at the level of the lesser trochanter.
  • Type II: Positioned within 2.5 cm below the lesser trochanter.
  • Type III: Extends between 2.5 and 5 cm below the lesser trochanter.

Causes of Subtrochanteric Hip Fractures

These fractures are often precipitated by minor trauma in elderly individuals with weakened bones or high-energy trauma in younger people. Prolonged use of certain medications for conditions like osteoporosis can also heighten the risk.

Signs and Symptoms

Typical symptoms include pain in the groin or outer upper thigh, swelling, tenderness, discomfort while rotating the hip, leg shortening, and abnormal turning of the foot and knee.


Diagnosis involves imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans to confirm the fracture’s location and severity.

Treatment Options

Treatment may involve nonoperative methods or surgery:

  • Nonoperative: Traction may be utilized temporarily for patients unfit for surgery.
  • Surgical: Various techniques can be employed, including external fixation, intramedullary fixation, or plate and screw fixation.

Surgical Procedures

  • External Fixation: Utilized for severe open fractures, this method involves inserting pins into the fractured fragments and supporting them with interconnected tubes.
  • Intramedullary Fixation: A long intramedullary nail is inserted into the bone, fixed with screws to prevent rotation.
  • Plate and Screw Fixation: Plates and screws are used to hold the fracture together, offering stability for proper healing.

Risks and Complications

Potential complications of surgery include nonunion or malunion of the fracture, fixation failure, and wound infections. These risks underscore the importance of meticulous surgical technique and postoperative care.

Understanding the nuances of subtrochanteric hip fractures is crucial for tailoring effective treatment strategies and mitigating associated risks, thereby promoting optimal patient outcomes.

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