Methods of meta-analysis, a technique for the combination of data from multiple sources, were applied to analyze 106 reports of the treatment of displaced fractures of the femoral neck.
Two years or less after primary internal fixation of a displaced fracture of the femoral neck, a non-union had developed in 33 per cent of the patients and avascular necrosis, in 16 per cent. The rate of performance of a second operation within two years ranged from 20 to 36 per cent after internal fixation and from 6 to 18 per cent after hemiarthroplasty (relative risk, 2.6; 95 per cent confidence interval, 1.4 to 4.6). Conversion to an arthroplasty was the most common reoperation after internal fixation and accounted for about two-thirds of these procedures. The remaining one-third of the reoperations were for removal of the implant or revision of the internal fixation. For the patients who had had a hemiarthroplasty, the most common reoperations were conversion to a total hip replacement, removal or revision of the prosthesis, and debridement of the wound.
Although we observed an increase in the rate of mortality at thirty days after primary hemiarthroplasty compared with that after primary internal fixation, the difference was not significant (p = 0.22) and did not persist beyond three months. The absolute difference in perioperative mortality between the two groups was small. An anterior operative approach for arthroplasty consistently was associated with a lower rate of mortality at two months than was a posterior approach.
Some reports showed promising results after total hip replacement for displaced fractures of the femoral neck; however, randomized clinical trials are still needed to establish the value of this treatment.