Post-retrieval functionality testing of PRECICE lengthening nails: The “Sleeper” nail concept

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J Clin Orthop Trauma


© 2020 Delhi Orthopedic Association Introduction: PRECICE intramedullary magnetic lengthening nails, introduced in 2011, have changed the landscape of long bone limb lengthening. The implants have a stroke ranging from 5 to 8 cm, but it may be desirable to perform part of the lengthening at one treatment, allow bone healing, leave the implant in place, dormant, and then return one or more years later to re-lengthen with the same implant. We call this the “sleeper” nail concept. This strategy may be gentler for the joints and soft tissues. Would the nail mechanism still be functional one or more years later? Methods: We tested 102 intact, consecutively explanted nails. Using a “fast magnet,” the male part was lengthened to 5 mm short of its maximum stroke capacity and retracted back to 35 mm (all nails start with the male part exposed 30 mm). The nails passed the test if the male part succeeded in lengthening to 5 mm short of the maximum stroke capacity and back to 35 mm (or only retract in case fully deployed at testing). During our testing, the nails were prevented from reaching their full capacity of lengthening/retraction to avoid jamming the gears. Failure was defined as the inability or partial ability to complete the process. Results: Eighty-six nails (84.3%) performed successfully according to our testing standard. When comparing successful and failed nails in terms of nail type, generation, diameter, length and in vivo interval, there was no statistical significance. Comparing both groups in terms of status at testing (fully deployed or not) showed statistical significance with 9 of the 16 failed nails fully deployed at testing (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Dormant PRECICE nails can be reactivated for further lengthening. The results imply that full deployment may damage the mechanism, making future re-use by retracting and then re-lengthening unsuccessful. The candidate nails for this purpose should not have any signs of clear damage (bending or breakage) and should not have been fully deployed. However, surgeons and patients should be aware of the need for possible nail exchange if the “sleeper” nail fails to wake up. Level of evidence: Level IV case series analysis of retrieved surgical implants.

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School of Medicine

Primary Department

Orthopedic Surgery

Additional Departments

General Pediatrics





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