Using MySQL variables to limit a select query

I discovered today when writing a stored procedure for a web reporting application that MySQL doesn’t support using variables for the LIMIT clause in a SELECT statement. I didn’t really want to write a dynamic query, one workaround that I found while Googling looked promising:

SET SQL_SELECT_LIMIT = RowLimit (can be a variable)
SELECT ….
SET SQL_SELECT_LIMIT = default

However it is applied at a global level and I needed different limits within a sequence of four queries formed into a union to get the top N results for a series of categories. Because I was giving the user the limited choice of retrieving the top 10, 20, 50 or 100 items I ending up using a CASE statement with each WHEN clause containing a duplicate of the entire query. Certainly not a pretty solution but works and is reasonably maintainable by leaving the LIMIT clause on a seperate line so any changes can be cut & pased down the procedure.

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