Intramedullary nailing (IMN) is a conventional technique for the treatment of tibial shaft fractures. It has been suggested that the suprapatellar (SP) approach holds advantages over the traditional infrapatellar (IP) approach. Current literature lacks adequate data to provide robust clinical recommendations. This meta-analysis aims to determine the efficacy of infrapatellar versus suprapatellar techniques for IMN.

An up-to-date literature search of the Embase, Medline, and registry platform databases was performed. The search was conducted using a predesigned search strategy and all eligible literature was critically appraised for methodological quality via the Cochrane's collaboration tool. Fluoroscopy time, operative time, pain score, knee function, deep infection, non-union and secondary operation rates were all considered.

A total of twelve studies were included in the meta-analysis. The results of this analysis show that suprapatellar nailing is associated with reduced post-operative pain scores and improved functional outcomes. The data suggest no significant difference in terms of operative times, fluoroscopy times, rates of deep infection, non-union or secondary procedures when compared to infra-patellar techniques. Further studies are required to confirm these findings and assess long-term results.