Locking plate versus external fixation in the treatment of displaced femoral supracondylar fracture in children

Jin Li, Xikai Guo, Hai Qiang Wang, Changjie Yue, Kailei Chen, Jiewen Ma, Jing Wang, Xin Tang
Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2020 June 23, 15 (1): 233

BACKGROUND: Displaced supracondylar femoral fractures (SFF) are difficult injuries to treat in children. Several techniques have been widely used but few studies have compared the merits and drawbacks of each surgical intervention in order to analyze clinical values. The aim of this study was to (1) evaluate postoperative and functional conditions after treatments with locking plate (LP) or external fixation (EF), (2) observe adverse events associated with these two techniques, and (3) evaluate the clinical value of these two techniques.

METHODS: Twenty-eight patients less than 14 years of age were included in this study with supracondylar femoral fractures. They underwent locking plate or external fixation in authors' hospital. The postoperative healing and functional outcome were elevated according to radiographic and clinical measures, including American Knee Society Score (KSS). Fisher's exact test and independent samples t test were used for statistical analysis.

RESULTS: All fractures healed without delayed union. The KSS scoring results of locking plate and external fixation groups were both excellent. The alignment of lower limbs was acceptable with knee valgus less than 2° for all involved patients. In addition, leg length discrepancy was less than 1 cm. No acute or severe complications were noted. There was significant difference in union time (p = 0.03), operating time (p< 0.001), intraoperative blood loss (p< 0.001), and limb length discrepancy (p = 0.04) between LP group and EF group.

CONCLUSIONS: External fixation is superior than locking plate in terms of union, operation time phrases, and intraoperative blood loss. EF techniques are better options for treating displaced supracondylar femoral fracture in children.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Retrospective comparative study; level III.

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