Pre-operative traction for fractures of the proximal femur in adults.

Michael J. Parker, H. H. Handoll

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: Following a hip fracture, traction may be applied to the injured limb before surgery. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of traction applied to the injured limb prior to surgery for a fractured hip. Different methods of applying traction (skin or skeletal) were considered. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group Specialised Register (March 2006), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library Issue 1, 2006), MEDLINE (1966 to March 2006), EMBASE (1988 to 2006 Week 11), CINAHL (1982 to March 2006), the UK National Research Register (Issue 1, 2006), conference proceedings and reference lists of articles. SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised or quasi-randomised trials comparing either skin or skeletal traction with no traction, or skin with skeletal traction for patients with an acute hip fracture prior to surgery. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Both authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. Additional information was sought from all trialists. Wherever appropriate and possible, data were pooled. MAIN RESULTS: Ten randomised trials, mainly of moderate quality, involving a total of 1546 predominantly elderly patients with hip fractures, were identified and included in the review. Nine trials compared traction with no traction. Although limited data pooling was possible, overall this provided no evidence of benefit from traction, either in the relief of pain before surgery or ease of fracture reduction or quality of fracture reduction at time of surgery. One of these trials included both skin and skeletal traction groups. This trial and one other compared skeletal traction with skin traction and found no important differences between these two methods, although the initial application of skeletal traction was noted as being more painful and more costly. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: From the evidence available, the routine use of traction (either skin or skeletal) prior to surgery for a hip fracture does not appear to have any benefit. However, the evidence is also insufficient to rule out the potential advantages for traction, in particular for specific fracture types, or to confirm additional complications due to traction use. Further, high quality trials would be required to confirm or refute the absence of benefits of traction.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalCochrane database of systematic reviews (Online)
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2006


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