Systematic review of complications with externally controlled motorized intramedullary bone lengthening nails (FITBONE and PRECICE) in 983 segments

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Background and purpose — In recent years motorized intramedullary lengthening nails have become increasingly popular. Complications are heterogeneously reported in small case series and therefore we made a systematic review of complications occurring in lower limb lengthening with externally controlled motorized intramedullary bone lengthening nails.

Methods — We performed a systematic search in PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library with medical subject headings: Bone Nails, Bone Lengthening, and PRECICE and FITBONE nails. Complications were graded on severity and origin.

Results — The search identified 952 articles; 116 were full text screened, and 41 were included in the final analysis. 983 segments were lengthened in 782 patients (age 8–74 years). The distribution of nails was: 214 FITBONE, 747 PRECICE, 22 either FITBONE or PRECICE. Indications for lengthening were: 208 congenital shortening, 305 acquired limb shortening, 111 short stature, 158 with unidentified etiology. We identified 332 complications (34% of segments): Type I (minimal intervention) in 11% of segments; Type II (substantial change in treatment plan) in 15% of segments; Type IIIA (failure to achieve goal) in 5% of segments; and Type IIIB (new pathology or permanent sequelae) in 3% of segments. Device and bone complications were the most frequent.

Interpretation — The overall risk of complications was 1 complication for every 3 segments lengthened. In 1 of every 4 segments, complications had a major impact leading to substantial change in treatment, failure to achieve lengthening goal, introduction of a new pathology, or permanent sequelae. However, as no standardized reporting method for complications exists, the true complication rates might be different.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Orthopaedica
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)120-127
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Bone Lengthening/instrumentation
  • Bone Nails
  • Femur/surgery
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications/etiology
  • Tibia/surgery


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