Avulsion fractures of the pelvic apophyses typically occur in adolescent athletes due to a sudden strong muscle contraction while growth plates are still open. The main goals of this systematic review with meta-analysis were to summarize the evidence on clinical outcome and determine the rate of return to sports after conservative versus operative treatment of avulsion fractures of the pelvis.

A systematic search of the Ovid database was performed in December 2016 to identify all published articles reporting outcome and return to preinjury sport-level after conservative or operative treatment of avulsion fractures of the pelvis in adolescent patients. Included studies were abstracted regarding study characteristics, patient demographics and outcome measures. The methodological quality of the studies was assessed with the Coleman Methodology Score (CMS).

Fourteen studies with a total of 596 patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean patient age was 14.3 ± 0.6 years and 75.5% of patients were male. Affected were the anterior inferior iliac spine (33.2%), ischial tuberosity (29.7%), anterior superior iliac spine (27.9%), iliac crest (6.7%) lesser trochanter (1.8%) and superior corner of the pubic symphysis (1.2%). Mean follow-up was 12.4 ± 11.7 months and most of the patients underwent a conservative treatment (89.6%). The overall success rate was higher in the patients receiving surgery (88%) compared to the patients receiving conservative treatment (79%) (p = 0,09). The rate of return to sports was 80% in conservative and 92% in operative treated patients (p = 0,03). Overall, the methodological quality of the included studies was low, with a mean CMS of 41.2.

On the basis of the present meta-analysis, the overall success and return to sports rate was higher in the patients receiving surgery. Especially in patients with fragment displacement greater 15 mm and high functional demands, surgical treatment should be considered.