Intramedullary Rod

This patient had a metal rod (intramedually rod) placed within her broken tibia to realign the bone and hold the tibia fracture in position.. X-Ray Image © Jonathan Cluett, MD

Intramedullary (IM) rods are used to align and stabilize fractures. IM rods are inserted into the bone marrow canal in the center of the long bones of the extremities; for example, in the femur (thigh bone) or tibia (shin bone).

One of the significant advantages of IM rods over other methods of fracture fixation is that IM rods share the load with the bone, rather that entirely supporting the bone.

Because of this, patients are able to use the extremity more quickly.

IM rods cannot be used for all fractures, and there are often associated complaints of pain and other symptoms at the site the IM rods are inserted. For this reason, a second operation may be needed to remove the IM device if you have painful symptoms. Otherwise, the IM rod is designed to stay inside your bone forever.

Speed Bone Healing?

It's important to note, that these types of implants don't really speed bone healing, and they don't take the place of bone healing.  Any metal implant used to stabilize a fracture is designed to hold the fracture in proper alignment while the normal healing process takes place.

While bone healing may not speed up, some IM rods are designed to have sufficient strength to carry the load of the body, and that is why people can often place weight on the extremity sooner than if you had to wait for full healing of the bone.

Also Known As: Intramedullary Nail; IM Rod; Dynamic Intramedullary Rod

Common Misspellings: Intermeduallary Rod

Continue Reading