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To systematically review the efficacy of surgical versus nonsurgical treatment for acute patellar dislocation.PubMed, Cochrane, and Embase were searched up to February 12, 2019. After removing duplicates, preliminary screening, and reading the full texts, we finally selected 16 articles, including 11 randomized controlled trials and 5 cohort studies. The quality of the enrolled studies was evaluated by Jadad score or Newcastle–Ottawa scale. Meta-analyses were performed using odds ratio (OR) and standardized mean difference (SMD) as effect variables. The clinical parameters assessed included mean Kujala score, rate of redislocation, incidence of patellar subluxation, patient satisfaction, and visual analog scale (VAS) for pain. Evidence levels were determined using GRADE profile.The 16 included studies involved 918 cases, 418 in the surgical group and 500 in the nonsurgical group. The results of the meta-analysis showed higher mean Kujala score (SMD = 0.79, 95% confidence interval [CI] [0.3, 1.28], P = .002) and lower rate of redislocation (OR = 0.44, 95% CI [0.3, 0.63], P < .00001) in the surgical group than the nonsurgical group, but showed insignificant differences in the incidence of patellar subluxation (OR = 0.61, 95% CI [0.36, 1.03], P = .06), satisfaction of patients (OR = 1.44, 95% CI [0.64, 3.25], P = .38), and VAS (SMD = 0.84, 95% CI [−0.36, 9.03], P = .84).For patients with primary acute patellar dislocation, surgical treatment produces a higher mean Kujala score and a lower rate of redislocation than nonsurgical treatment.