Vascularized fibular grafts in patients with avascular necrosis of femoral head: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Taolin Fang, Elizabeth W Zhang, Frederick C Sailes, Robert A McGuire, William C Lineaweaver, Feng Zhang
Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 2013, 133 (1): 1-10

BACKGROUND: Vascularized fibular grafting (VFG) has been initiated to treat avascular necrosis of the femoral head (ANFH) since the late 1970s. There are a number of review articles updating the use of VFG to treat the ANFH. None of them applied statistical analysis for combining results from different studies to obtain a quantitative estimate of the overall effect and potential harm of VFG in comparison to other treatment.

METHODS: Several electronic databases were searched to find studies using VFG to treat ANFH. The outcomes sought included Harris Score, failure rate (conversion to total hip arthroplasty (THA) and/or femoral head collapse), and complications rate. Included studies were assessed for methodological bias and estimates of effect were calculated. Potential reasons for heterogeneity were explored.

RESULTS: The clinical results of 69.0 % of VFG-treated patients and 25.0 % of non-VFG-treated patients were good to excellent (OR 0.13; p < 0.01). The conversion rate to THA of VFG-treated and that of other methods treated hips was 16.5 % and 42.6 % (OR 0.19; p < 0.001). Collapse rate of VFG-treated and that of non-VFG-treated hips was 16.7 % and 63.6 % (OR 0.09; p < 0.05). The complication rate of VFG-treated and that of other methods treated patients was 23.8 % and 8.9 % (OR 3.44; p = 0.09). For Steinberg stage I, II ANFH, failure rate of VFG-treated and that of non-VFG-treated hips was 9.8 % and 40.2 % (OR 0.17; p < 0.001). For Steinberg stage II, III ANFH, failure rate of VFG-treated and that of non-VFG-treated hips was 16.5 % and 42.8 %, respectively (OR 0.17; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: VFG is a justified method that can prevent the ANFH from progressing to collapse, and that can retard or avoid hip replacement, especially in the hips of Steinberg stage I, II, and III.

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