We reviewed 155 consecutive patients who were treated with a proximal femoral nail from 1997 to 2001 to determine the rate of implant specific complications. Results were stratified according to fracture type and surgeon experience to determine which problems occurred in these groups. One year postoperative followup was available for 129 of 132 surviving patients (98%). Failure of fixation occurred in three patients (2%), and a femoral shaft fracture occurred in one patient (0.7%). Fixation failures included one cutout, one delayed fracture healing, and one lateral displacement of the antirotation screw. The total reoperation rate was high (12%) mainly because of hardware removals, which occurred in 13 patients (8.6%). Stratification of results showed that hematomas and iliotibial tract irritation occurred more commonly with lesser surgical experience. General complications and intraoperative problems were seen more often with subtrochanteric fractures. Because the high reoperation rate with the proximal femoral nail is a concern, extramedullary devices continue to be the preferred implants for treatment of stable trochanteric fractures. The low rates of femoral shaft fractures and failure of fixation suggest the proximal femoral nail is useful for treatment of unstable trochanteric and subtrochanteric fractures.

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