Background: There is a general consensus on the management of femoral fractures in children younger than two years and adolescents older than sixteen years. The best treatment for patients younger than sixteen years of age is still debatable. Titanium Elastic Nails (TEN), is widely used with some evidence, nonetheless, we undertook a systematic meta-analysis to assess the efficacy of TEN compared to Spica cast for the management of femoral shaft fracture in children aged between 2 to 16 years old.
Methods: A computer literature search of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, CINAHL and Cochrane Central was conducted using relevant keywords. We included clinical trials and observational studies that compared TEN versus Spica cast; Records were screened for eligible studies and data were extracted and synthesized using Review Manager version 5.3 for Windows. Our search found 573 unique articles. After screening the abstract and relevant full text, 12 studies with a total of 1012 patients were suitable for the final analysis.
Results: In terms terms of union (in weeks), the reported effect sizes favoured the TEN group in two included studies only. Moreover, the overall standardized mean difference in sagittal (SMD -0.48, 95% CI [-0.70 to -0.26], P<0.001) and coronal angulations (SMD -0.66, 95% CI [-1.00 to -0.31], P<0.001) favored TEN fixation in management of femoral fractures younger than 16 years. The reported length of hospital stay was not consistent across studies. The overall risk ratio of malalignment (RR=0.39, 95% CI [0.27 to 0.57], P<0.001) favored the TEN as well as walking independently. Based on our analysis, TEN treatment is superior to traction and hip spica for femoral fractures in patients younger than 16 years old.
Conclusion: Based on our analysis we recommend the use of TEN fixation in management of pediatric femoral fractures in patients younger than 16 years.