The management of geriatric distal femur fractures is controversial, and both primary distal femur replacement (DFR) and surgical fixation (SF) are viable treatment options. The purpose of this study was to compare patient outcomes after these treatment strategies.
PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane databases were searched for English language articles up to April 24, 2020, identifying 2129 papers.
Studies evaluating complications in elderly patients treated for distal femur fractures with either immediate DFR or SF were included. Studies with mean patient age <55 years, nontraumatic indications for DFR, or SF with nonlocking plates were excluded.
Two studies provided Level II or III evidence, whereas the remaining 28 studies provided Level IV evidence. Studies were formally evaluated for methodological quality using established criteria. Treatment failure between groups was compared using an incidence rate ratio.
Treatment failure was defined for both SF and arthroplasty as complications requiring a major reoperation for reasons such as mechanical failure, nonunion, deep infection, aseptic loosening, or extensor mechanism disruption. There were no significant differences in complication rates or knee range of motion between SF and DFR.
SF and DFR for the treatment of geriatric distal femur fractures demonstrate similar overall complication rates. Given the available evidence, no strong conclusions on the comparative effectiveness between the 2 treatments can be definitively made. More rigorous prospective research comparing SF vs. DFR to treat acute geriatric distal femur fractures is warranted.
Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level IV. See instructions for authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.