Background: Clinical practice guidelines are being developed for a number of topics in medicine to decrease practice variability and to improve evidenced-based care. Within orthopaedic surgery, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has a dedicated committee that produces these clinical practice guidelines on a variety of issues. One such issue was the treatment of pediatric diaphyseal femoral fractures, with the clinical practice guideline being published in 2009. We performed a retrospective review of the treatment of pediatric diaphyseal femoral fractures at a single institution from 2007 to 2012 to assess the clinical impact of this clinical practice guideline on the treatment of this condition.
Methods: A retrospective review of all patients treated at a single pediatric hospital between 2007 and 2012 for a pediatric diaphyseal femoral fracture was conducted. The 2009 AAOS clinical practice guideline on the treatment of this condition was assessed and each patient record was analyzed to determine if the clinical practice guideline was followed, based on the age-specific recommendations. The percentage of treatment rendered adhering to the clinical practice guideline recommendations was compared in the pre-guideline group (prior to June 2009) and the post-guideline group (after June 2009).
Results: A total of 361 patients were treated for a diaphyseal femoral fracture during this time frame and were included in this study. Overall, little change in treatment was found following the publication of this clinical practice guideline. The only significant change noted over this time period was a decrease (p = 0.03) in the percentage of patients between the ages of five and eleven years who were treated with flexible nails, at odds with this specific clinical practice guideline recommendation.
Conclusions: We found little direct clinical impact of the recently published AAOS clinical practice guideline on the treatment of pediatric diaphyseal femoral fractures. This analysis suggests an important role for clinical assessment after guideline publication to identify areas of potentially important future clinical research and to assess the utility of this guideline.
1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, Children’s National Medical Center, 111 Michigan Avenue N.W., W1.5, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20010. E-mail address for M.E. Oetgen: firstname.lastname@example.org
2The George Washington University School of Medicine, Ross Hall, 2300 Eye Street N.W., Washington, DC 20037