Surgical treatment of infected femoral non-union is challenging. Only few reports exist including autologous bone grafting (ABG) from the iliac crest promoting union. Vitalized allogeneic bone grafting (VABG) is an alternative promoting osseous healing and reconstructing bone defects. VABG contains allogeneic cancellous bone, impregnated with autologous bone marrow puncture harvested from the iliac crest. Yet, no systematic trial exists summarizing the results of septic femoral non-union using VABG analyzing the infection eradication rate, rate of osseous integration with union, and osseous remodeling.
In this prospective non-randomized cohort study, 18 patients treated by nailing or plating for femur fractures that subsequently developed a septic non-union were included. The surgical intervention included a standardized protocol by eradicating infection first, followed by implantation VABG to promote osseous union. Main outcome measurements were radiographic union and clinical parameters.
Mean follow-up was 5.9 years (range: 2–8 years). Infection eradication was achieved for all patients, while union was achieved in 15 out of 18 cases (83.3 %). Mean time for union took 16.9 weeks (range: 12–24). Radiographic analysis proved osseous remodeling and full integration of VABG within 12 months for 15 patients. No infection recurrence occurred at final follow-up.
VABG demonstrated a high union rate without donor site morbidity as the main advantage over ABG. Sufficient osseous integration within 3 months and remodeling within 12 months are promising aspects, as no late fatigue fractures occurred. However, further trials are necessary due to the limitations of this study.