Intramedullary fixation versus plate fixation for displaced mid-shaft clavicle fractures: A systematic review of overlapping meta-analyses

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Displaced mid-shaft clavicle fractures (DMCFs) are common injuries. Both intramedullary fixation (IMF) and plate fixation (PF) have been described and routinely used. Multiple trials have been conducted to compare these treatments. Multiple meta-analyses have been published to compare IMF and PF treatment for DMCFs; however, the results remain controversial. The purposes of this study were to perform a systematic review of overlapping meta-analyses comparing IMF and PF treatment for DMCFs, to help decision makers critically evaluate the current meta-analyses, and to propose a guide through the best available evidence.


We searched the Cochrane library, PubMed, and EMBASE data bases. Two authors independently scanned titles and abstracts to exclude irrelevant articles and identify meta-analyses that met the eligibility criteria. The methodological quality of the meta-analysis was independently assessed by the 2 authors using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine Levels of Evidence and the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) tool. Heterogeneity information of each variable was extracted from the included studies. An I2 of <60% is accepted in this systematic review. The Jadad algorithm was then applied to determine which of the meta-analyses provided the best evidence.


Eight meta-analysis met the inclusion criteria in this study. AMSTAR scores varied from 7 to 9. Heterogeneity of each outcome was acceptable. Four authors independently selected the same meta-analysis as providing the highest quality of evidence using the Jadad decision algorithm.


This systematic review of overlapping meta-analyses suggests that compared with PF, major reintervention and refracture after implant removal occurred more frequently after PF of DMCFs. No differences in terms of function and non-union between PF and IMF were observed. Future research should focus on fracture selection for IMF and further improvement of plates and IM devices.

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