Recent studies demonstrate considerable deviation from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of pediatric diaphyseal femur fractures (PDFFs). This study aimed to determine if expert-consensus can be reached on a principle-based classification to be applied broadly to a wide variety of PDFF scenarios and if outcomes correspond to adherence to the classification.
A 2-stage study was performed. First, a survey of experts using a principle-based approach to PDFF. We conducted a survey of 17 thought-leaders (criteria≥20 y’ experience+authors of the seminal pediatric femur fracture studies) who were asked to classify 15 cases of PDFF using the principle-based classification for agreement. Next, we conducted a retrospective review of 289 consecutive PDFF treated (2011-2015) at a level 1 pediatric trauma center. For each case, we compared the actual treatment and proposed “ideal” principle-based classification. We then compared clinical results and outcome data points including the length of stay, physician visits, and hospital charge data.
A substantial (κ=0.7) expert-agreement was noted for assigning treatment principles with near-perfect (κ=0.93) agreement on conservative versus surgical management. We obtained agreement on employing a flexible implant (κ=0.84) rigid fixation (κ=0.75) and damage control philosophy (κ=0.64). Suboptimal clinical results were noted in 43% of the undertreated patients (24/56), 18.8% of the adequately treated, and 14.3% of overtreated (P<0.01) patients. An increasing trend for the length of hospital stay and a number of clinic visits was noted as the treatment class increased (P<0.01). Charges were 4.2 times higher for an episode of operative versus nonoperative care (P<0.01). Rigid fixation (class 4) had significantly (P=0.01) higher total and material charges than flexible fixation (class 3).
The proposed classification has a substantial agreement among thought-leaders. Clinical results demonstrated significantly more suboptimal results in undertreated fractures, compared with ideally treated or more invasively treated fractures. More invasive treatments led to increased burden to families and the system in terms of length of stay and hospital charges.
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