Treatment Options for Nonunion With Segmental Bone Defects: Systematic Review and Quantitative Evidence Synthesis

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To determine which reconstruction treatment of long bones nonunion with segmental bone defects (SBDs) is effective to restore bone length and union with good function.

Data Sources:

PubMed was used to identify published literature on treatment of SBD caused by fracture nonunion regardless of infection between January 1975 and December 2014.

Study Selection:

We included retrospective cohort studies with a minimum sample size of 10 consecutive patients with minimum follow-up of 18 months and available data on radiographic and functional outcomes.

Data Extraction:

Literature review revealed 24 publications with a sample size of 504 patients (395 males, 109 females). Data on bone union and functional outcome and complications were collected and analyzed based on validated classification systems.

Data Synthesis:

Two outcome groups were categorized for bone union and functional outcome, success, and failure. We then performed heterogeneity test to examine the variability or differences in the methods used by these studies and based on that we determined whether the fixed effect or random effect method is appropriate in examining the summary or pool estimate. Pool estimate was examined for bone union and functional outcome in each surgical modality and in each anatomic location when data were available.


Treatment of SBD can be challenging. This quantitative evidence synthesis shows that bone union was achieved by different procedures with variable bone union and functional outcomes.

Level of Evidence:

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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