Supracondylar periprosthetic fractures, when amenable to fixation, can be treated by either retrograde intramedullary nailing (RIMN) or plating. There is paucity of evidence regarding the superiority of one fixation method over the other. This review aims to determine which fixation method leads to better functional outcomes and perioperative complications Hypothesis: Superiority of intramedullary nailing in terms of fracture healing and surgical complications when compared to distal femoral plating.

Using PRISMA guidelines, a systematic search was performed. Studies which reported comparative outcome data following the two interventions were included. Qualitative data analysis and narrative synthesis were reported. Pooled comparisons were conducted when similar quantifiable outcomes were reported in a minimum of three studies.

A total of 151 records were generated by the search. Eight studies met the eligibility criteria so were included in the final analysis. The studies comprised a total of 407 cases, with a follow up period ranging from 1 to 15 years. 252 cases were treated with plate fixation and 155 with RIMN. All studies were mitigated by heterogeneity and methodological limitations. The review showed marked variation in descriptive fracture classifications. Narrative data synthesis was conducted. Although guarded by the methodological limitations of individual studies, outcomes showed that mean time to union was equivalent; 5.88 months for RIMN compared to 6.75 months in plating, standardised mean difference = 0.28 (95% CI -0.02-0.58). Similarly, no statistically significant differences were reported between RIMN and plating for deep infection (OR:1.41 95%CI 0.40-5.00) and revision surgery (OR: 0.74, 95%CI 0.39-1.41).

Clinical outcomes showed a tendency that favours intramedullary nailing; however, generalisation of results was not possible. Future priority must be awarded to higher quality research in the form of a collaborative multicentre observational studies to delineate appropriate major diagnostic categories, ultimately informing a large comparative trial using condition specific validated outcome measures.

III, meta-analysis.

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