The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review of studies comparing treatments for displaced radial head fractures (RHFs) and perform a network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
We searched electronic databases and reviewed the reference lists of included studies and prior systematic reviews. We included RCTs and cohort studies that (1) compared treatments for displaced RHFs in adults and (2) reported a functional outcome or postoperative complications. Data from RCTs were synthesized using a Bayesian network meta-analysis. We compared the proportion of patients categorized as "excellent" or "good" according to the Broberg and Morrey scale and the rate of postoperative complications using odds ratios (OR) with 95% credible intervals (CrI).
We included 20 studies (4 RCTs). The evidence from RCTs examined radial head arthroplasty (RHA), open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) with metal implants (ORIF-M), and ORIF with biodegradable implants (ORIF-B). The network meta-analysis demonstrated that patients treated with an RHA had greater odds of achieving an "excellent" or "good" score compared with ORIF-M (OR, 22.5; 95% CrI, 2.73-299.58) and ORIF-B (OR, 11.83; 95% CrI, 0.58-324.57). For postoperative complications, RHA patients had a lower odds of experiencing a complication than ORIF-M (OR, 0.15; 95% CrI, 0.01-1.81) and ORIF-B (OR, 0.16; 95% CrI, 0.01-3.06) patients.
The network meta-analysis of RCTs indicated that RHA results in better function and reduced postoperative complications than ORIF-M and ORIF-B over 2 years in the treatment of displaced RHFs.