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AIMS: The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of conducting a full-scale, appropriately powered, randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing internal fracture fixation and distal femoral replacement (DFR) for distal femoral fractures in older patients. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Seven centres recruited patients into the study. Patients were eligible if they were greater than 65 years of age with a distal femoral fracture, and if the surgeon felt that they were suitable for either form of treatment. Outcome measures included the patients' willingness to participate, clinicians' willingness to recruit, rates of loss to follow-up, the ability to capture data, estimates of standard deviation to inform the sample size calculation, and the main determinants of cost. The primary clinical outcome measure was the EuroQol five-dimensional index (EQ-5D) at six months following injury. RESULTS: Of 36 patients who met the inclusion criteria, five declined to participate and eight were not recruited, leaving 23 patients to be randomized. One patient withdrew before surgery. Of the remaining patients, five (23%) withdrew during the follow-up period and six (26%) died. A 100% response rate was achieved for the EQ-5D at each follow-up point, excluding one missing datapoint at baseline. In the DFR group, the mean cost of the implant outweighed the mean cost of many other items, including theatre time, length of stay, and readmissions. For a powered RCT, a total sample size of 1400 would be required with 234 centres recruiting over three years. At six months, the EQ-5D utility index was lower in the DFR group. CONCLUSION: This study found that running a full-scale trial in this country would not be feasible. However, it may be feasible to undertake an international multicentre trial, and our findings provide some guidance about the power of such a study, the numbers required, and some challenges that should be anticipated and addressed. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2019;101-B:1408-1415.

Original publication




Journal article


Bone joint j

Publication Date





1408 - 1415


Distal femoral fracture, Distal femoral replacement, Internal fracture fixation, Older patient, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee, Feasibility Studies, Female, Femoral Fractures, Fracture Fixation, Internal, Humans, Length of Stay, Operative Time, Prospective Studies, Treatment Outcome