There are few statistically significant differences between treatments in healing of the fracture. The evidence reviewed included ten studies that examined one hundred varying outcomes. Of these one hundred outcomes twenty-one were significant. There were no studies that directly compared flexible nails to spica casting. When flexible nails were compared to external fixation and traction plus casting, nine outcomes were significant favoring flexible nails, one significant outcome favored external fixation and one significant outcome favored traction plus casting. (Please refer to Tables 6 and 7 below.)
The high quality study22 found to address this recommendation compared external fixation to spica casting. External fixation was favored over spica casting for malunions, including anterior/posterior angulation. Twelve other outcomes for this comparison had non-significant results.
In summary, the overall body of evidence considered for this recommendation indicates that there are few significant outcomes when all comparisons are considered. Further, important comparisons have not been investigated (spica casting and flexible nails).
Two moderate quality studies24, 50 shows more rapid return to walking and school with flexible intramedullary nailing and one low quality study25 illustrates less associated hospital costs when compared to traction and casting. The ability to mobilize the patient, return them to school rapidly, and suggested decrease in hospital costs leads the work group to suggest flexible intramedullary nailing over traction followed by casting. There is evidence that flexible intramedullary nailing has less adverse events and more rapid return to school than external fixation in both stable and unstable fractures.26
In making this recommendation, the work group acknowledges that they are including their expert opinion and they have therefore, downgraded the Grade of this Recommendation to a “limited” recommendation. Based on the advantages suggested, less adverse events and more rapid return to school, flexible intramedullary nailing is a treatment option for children five to eleven years diagnosed with diaphyseal femur fractures.
There is currently insufficient literature in specially designed pediatric rigid intramedullary nails and bridge plating for inclusion in the current guideline.
Patients over age 11 or with weight over 49 kg are at increased risk of a poor outcome27 with flexible intramedullary nailing. The mean weight between patients with a poor outcome and those with an excellent or satisfactory outcome was significant, but weight was not independent of age and had a sensitivity of only 59% in predicting poor outcomes.
Previously Published Systematic Reviews:
Two previous systematic reviews21,23 concluded that early spica casting was associated with shorter inpatient hospital stays and fewer adverse events than traction. One review23 concluded that flexible nails reduced the malunion and adverse event rate compared to external fixation, and that external fixation reduced the malunion rate compared to early spica casting. This review also concluded that dynamic external fixation had a lower total adverse event rate compared to static external fixation, and that operative treatment reduced the malunion and total adverse event rates compared to nonoperative treatment. Both of these reviews, however, were not specific to the population of interest for this recommendation, so we did not include them in our systematic review.
2020 Update Supporting Evidence: Ahmad, I, Gilani, H. U. R, Rasool, K, Rasool A. Comparison of titanium elastic nailing vs hip spica cast in treatment of femoral shaft fractures in children between 6-12 years of age. Pakistan Journal of Medical and Health Sciences. 2015 January;9(2): 717-719.
Naseem, M, Moton, R. Z, Siddiqui, M. A. Comparison of titanium elastic nails versus Thomas splint traction for treatment of pediatric femur shaft fracture. J Pak Med Assoc. 2015 Nov;65(11 Suppl 3):S160-2.
Soleimanpour, J, Ganjpour, J, Rouhani, S, Goldust, M. Comparison of titanium elastic nails with traction and spica cast in treatment of children's femoral shaft fractures. Pak J Biol Sci. 2013 Apr 15;16(8):391-5.
- (22) Wright JG, Wang EE, Owen JL et al. Treatments for paediatric femoral fractures: a randomised trial. Lancet. 2005;365:1153-1158
- (24) Flynn JM, Luedtke LM, Ganley TJ et al. Comparison of titanium elastic nails with traction and a spica cast to treat femoral fractures in children. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2004;86-A:770-777.
- (25) Buechsenschuetz KE, Mehlman CT, Shaw KJ, Crawford AH, Immerman EB. Femoral shaft fractures in children: traction and casting versus elastic stable intramedullary nailing. J Trauma. 2002;53:914-921.
- (26) Barlas K, Beg H. Flexible intramedullary nailing versus external fixation of paediatric femoral fractures. Acta Orthop Belg. 2006;72:159-163.
- (27) Moroz LA, Launay F, Kocher MS et al. Titanium elastic nailing of fractures of the femur in children. Predictors of complications and poor outcome. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2006;88:1361-1366.
- (28) Domb BG, Sponseller PD, Ain M, Miller NH. Comparison of dynamic versus static external fixation for pediatric femur fractures. J Pediatr Orthop. 2002;22:428-430.
- (29) Mehdinasab SA, Nejad SAM, Sarrafan N. Short term outcome of treatment of femoral shaft fractures in children by two methods: Traction plus casting, versus intramedullary pin fixation - A comparative study. Pak J Med Sci. 2008;24:147-151.
- (30) Ali M, Raza A. Union and complications after Thomas splint and early hip spica for femoral shaft fractures in children. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak. 2005;15:799-801.
- (31) Curtis JF, Killian JT, Alonso JE. Improved treatment of femoral shaft fractures in children utilizing the pontoon spica cast: a long-term follow-up. J Pediatr Orthop. 1995;15:36-40.
- (32) Nork SE, Hoffinger SA. Skeletal traction versus external fixation for pediatric femoral shaft fractures: a comparison of hospital costs and charges. J Orthop Trauma. 1998;12:563-568.
- (33) Song HR, Oh CW, Shin HD et al. Treatment of femoral shaft fractures in young children: comparison between conservative treatment and retrograde flexible nailing. J Pediatr Orthop B. 2004;13:275-280.
- (34) Hedin H, Borgquist L, Larsson S. A cost analysis of three methods of treating femoral shaft fractures in children: a comparison of traction in hospital, traction in hospital/home and external fixation. Acta Orthop Scand. 2004;75:241-248.
- (35) Rasit AH, Mohammad AW, Pan KL. The pattern of femoral diaphyseal fractures in children admitted in Sarawak General Hospital. Med J Malaysia. 2006;61 Suppl A:79-82.
- (36) Sturdee SW, Templeton PA, Dahabreh Z, Cullen E, Giannoudis PV. Femoral fractures in children, is early interventional treatment beneficial? Injury. 2007;38:937-944.
- (37) Wall EJ, Jain V, Vora V, Mehlman CT, Crawford AH. Complications of titanium and stainless steel elastic nail fixation of pediatric femoral fractures. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2008;90:1305-1313.
- (50) Shemshaki,H.R., Mousavi,H., Salehi,G., Eshaghi,M.A. Titanium elastic nailing versus hip spica cast in treatment of femoral-shaft fractures in children. J Orthop Traumatol. 2011/3; 1: 45-48
- Ahmad, I, Gilani, H. U. R, Rasool, K, Rasool A. Comparison of titanium elastic nailing vs hip spica cast in treatment of femoral shaft fractures in children between 6-12 years of age. Pakistan Journal of Medical and Health Sciences. 2015 January;9(2): 717-719.
- Naseem, M, Moton, R. Z, Siddiqui, M. A. Comparison of titanium elastic nails versus Thomas splint traction for treatment of pediatric femur shaft fracture. J Pak Med Assoc. 2015 Nov;65(11 Suppl 3):S160-2.
- Soleimanpour, J, Ganjpour, J, Rouhani, S, Goldust, M. Comparison of titanium elastic nails with traction and spica cast in treatment of children's femoral shaft fractures. Pak J Biol Sci. 2013 Apr 15;16(8):391-5.