The SIGN "Nail"

Dr. Zirkle, founder of SIGN 
Fracture Care International, developed the ingenious "SIGN Nail" for use in developing country hospitals where expensive real-time imaging equipment is not available during surgery.  Without imaging equipment, surgeons are operating blind, so Dr. Zirkle crafted a clever  targeting device (essentially an external jig) that holds everything in alignment  while screws lock the bone pieces and nail together.


Severe fractures require surgical intervention.  
Pictured to the left is a fracture of the tibia (lower leg bone). Many times, a trauma fractures the bone into several pieces.  Without surgical intervention, the broken ends of the bone cannot knit together properly, which can leave the patient disabled for life. In adults, a cast or a splint is insufficient to treat a fracture like this, where the bone has been completely broken into two or more pieces. This fracture is typical of what SIGN Fracture Care International surgeons normally treat.

Such fractures are common in developing nations where bicycles and motorbikes are the primary mode of transportation, and overcrowded streets make crashes frequent. The large number of fracture injuries, coupled with otherwise inadequate treatment, is responsible for a staggering number of disabled people in developing nations.

IM
(i.e. Intramedullary) Nails are the medical standard for surgical intervention in severe long bone trauma.  Pictured on the left is the same fracture as shown above, following treatment with a SIGN Fracture Care International Intramedullary (IM) Nail. The IM nail is a rod made of surgical-grade stainless steel which passes through the canal of the bone to align the bone pieces so they can heal straight.

The nail is secured to the bone on either end by (so-called) cortical screws which pass through the bone and through slots previously machined in the nail. The screws can be seen in the x-ray as short, white lines running perpendicular to the IM nail.

This IM Nail is the standard method of treatment of serious fractures in developed nations, making long bone fractures little more than painful (and temporary) inconveniences. SIGN Fracture Care International's goal is, with its innovative surgical technology, to make IM Nails the world-wide standard for fracture treatment. 

Subpages (1): SIGN Nail Facts
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