Young femoral neck fractures: Are we measuring outcomes that matter?
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INTRODUCTION: Femoral neck fractures in younger aged patients are particularly devastating injuries with profound impairments of quality of life and function. As there are multiple differences in patient and injury characteristics between young and elderly femoral neck fracture patients, the geriatric hip fracture literature is unlikely to be generalisable to patients under age 60. We conducted a systematic review to determine if clinically relevant outcome measures have been used in previously published clinical studies of internal fixation in young adults with femoral neck fractures. METHODS: We conducted a comprehensive literature search using multiple electronic databases and conference proceedings to identify studies which used internal fixation for the management of femoral neck fractures in patients between the ages of 15 to 60. Eligibility screening and data abstraction were performed in duplicate. We classified the reported outcomes into the following categories: operative and hospital outcomes, radiographic outcomes, clinical outcomes, and functional outcomes and health-related quality of life. We calculated the frequencies of reported outcomes. RESULTS: Fort-two studies met our inclusion criteria. Operative and hospital outcomes were poorly reported with less than one-quarter of studies reporting relevant data. Important radiographic outcomes were also inadequately reported with only one-third of studies reporting the quality of the fracture reduction, and methods for assessment were highly variable. The assessment of avascular necrosis was reported in almost all the included studies (95.2%); however, the assessment of nonunion was only reported in three-quarters of the studies. Re-operations were reported in 73.8% of the included studies and the assessment of fracture healing was only reported in two-thirds of the studies. Less than half of the studies reported functional outcomes or health-related quality of life (overall patient evaluation scales and systems (45.2%), patient functional outcomes (30.9%), and health-related quality of life (4.8%). DISCUSSION: Our systematic review found that the assessment of clinically relevant outcomes in the young femoral neck fracture literature is lacking, which makes utilising the literature to guide clinical practice challenging. Future studies should aim to include important radiographic measures, fracture-healing complications, functional outcomes, and health-related quality of life during any assessment of young femoral neck fracture treatment.