Pediatric femur fractures are commonly treated with flexible intramedullary nails (FIN). However, there is controversy regarding the effect of patient weight on outcomes and complications. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to review the literature and describe implant choice, analyze complication, and reoperation rates; as well as the report clinical and radiographic outcomes of FIN in pediatric patients weighing ≥40 kg with femoral shaft fractures.
A systematic review was performed of all retrospective and prospective studies focusing on the use of FIN in heavy children in Medline, Cochrane, and Web of Science databases. Data extraction was performed and summarized using descriptive statistics. Quality assessment was performed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Meta-analysis was performed for complications using pooled data from included studies.
The initial search strategy yielded 177 references, and after exclusions, 5 studies were included. The majority of studies were retrospective, and the most commonly used implants in heavier patients were titanium FIN and stainless steel Enders FIN. There were higher rates of radiographic nonunion and malunion, complications, and reoperations for refracture; and nonunion in heavier children treated with FIN. Meta-analysis performed on 4 applicable studies showed the overall complication rate was higher in the heavier patients compared with lighter patients (30.6% vs. 11.1%) with a relative risk of 1.20 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.02-1.41]. Heavier patients also had higher rates of major complications (relative risk, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.03-1.69) but similar minor complications (relative risk, 1.13; 95% CI, 0.90-1.41).
Heavier children have worse radiographic outcomes and higher complication rates with the use of FIN for femoral shaft fractures. Additional research is needed to determine the effect of FIN material on clinical outcomes in heavier children, and the relationship between weight and other known risk factors for poor outcome in FIN, such as length stability.
Level of Evidence:
Level III—systematic review of level-III studies.