Flexible nails have a significantly increased risk of complications compared with plating techniques when treating diaphyseal femoral fractures in children aged 5–12: A systematic review

Richard L Donovan*, Luke Harries, Michael R Whitehouse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)

Abstract

Background
One third of paediatric femoral fractures occur between the ages of 5 and 12. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) provide evidence-based guidance for treating such fractures that occur in children under 5 and over 12 but not for this age cohort. We aimed to synthesise the available evidence comparing flexible nailing versus plating techniques for diaphyseal femoral fractures in children between the ages of 5 and 12.

Methodology
A systematic review of interventional and observational studies was performed using MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane CENTRAL, Web of Science, WHO Global Index Medicus and LILACS. The search strategy combined keywords for: children, diaphyseal femoral fractures, plates and nails. Two independent reviewers screened, selected, assessed quality and extracted data from identified studies. The primary outcome was overall complication rates. Secondary outcomes assessed rates of individual complications, and operative variables (e.g. operative time, blood loss).

Results
Five studies fulfilled the eligibility criteria. No RCTs were identified. The studies included 308 femoral fractures in 306 patients: 174 fractures were treated with flexible nailing and 134 with plating. The post-operative complication rate was 27.0% ( n = 47) after flexible nails and 12.7% ( n = 17) after plating, relative risk 2.13 (95% CI 1.28, 3.53; p = 0.0035). The relative risk of malunion was 3.59 (95% CI 1.05, 12.25; p = 0.0409) with flexible nails and of prominent metalwork was 5.39 (95% CI 1.25, 23.31; p = 0.0241) with flexible nails.

Conclusions
Data on this topic for this age group is limited despite accounting for one third of paediatric femoral fractures. This review identified a significantly increased relative risk of all complications, and in particular with respect to malunion and prominent metalwork when fractures in this cohort are treated with flexible nails compared to plates. A multi-centre randomised trial to determine if either treatment is superior would be justified.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalInjury
Early online date16 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Sep 2020

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Population Health Science Institute

Keywords

  • Child
  • Diaphyses
  • Femoral Fractures
  • Bone Plates
  • Bone Nails

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