Operative Management for Pediatric and Adolescent Scaphoid Nonunions: A Meta-analysis

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Abstract

Introduction:

Scaphoid fractures in the pediatric population represent ∼3% of all hand and carpal fractures. Cast immobilization has been shown to yield excellent results in the acute phase, however some patients develop nonunions. Currently, there is no consensus regarding the best surgical treatment after development of a pediatric/adolescent scaphoid nonunion.

Methods:

A comprehensive literature review was performed utilizing Medline, Ovid, and Embase databases to compare surgical techniques for adolescent scaphoid nonunions on the basis of union rates, functional outcomes, and operative complications. Our initial search returned 2110 publications. Inclusion criteria consisted of a scaphoid fracture with >3 months of no clinical or radiographic improvement after cast immobilization and age less than 18 years. Ultimately, 11 studies met our criteria and were included in the final analysis.

Results:

A total of 176 surgically treated pediatric/adolescent scaphoid nonunions were identified from the 11 studies, including 157 nonvascularized bone graft procedures and 19 nongrafted rigid fixation procedures. Patients treated with a nongrafted method achieved union with a total random effects model revealing a union rate of 94.6%, whereas the grafted cohort had a union rate of 94.8%. Functional outcomes including range of motion and grip strength were significantly improved in both cohorts. Patients managed operatively with bone graft had 4 complications, in contrast those without bone grafting did not report complications (P=0.9).

Conclusion:

Surgical treatment of pediatric/adolescent scaphoid fracture nonunions produce excellent union rates and functional outcomes after surgical intervention, using both grafted and nongrafted techniques. Future prospective studies are needed to assess if the outcomes of a specific technique are more favorable, as well as to determine if differences exist based on fracture location.

Level of Evidence:

Level III. This study is a meta-analysis of studies containing level of evidence of III or greater.

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