Fractures of the Proximal Phalanx and Metacarpals in the Hand: Preferred Methods of Stabilization

Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons October 2008, Volume 16, Issue 10 Mark H. Henry, MD

Treatment of fractures of the proximal phalanx and metacarpals is based on the presentation of the fracture, degree of displacement, and difficulty in maintaining fracture reduction. A wide array of treatment options exists for the variation in fracture patterns observed. Inherently stable fractures do not require surgical treatment; all other fractures should be considered for additional stabilization. In general, of the many combinations of internal fixation possible, Kirschner wires and screw-and-plate fixation predominate. Early closed reduction typically is successful for unicondylar fractures of the head of the proximal phalanx. Bicondylar proximal phalanx fractures usually are treated with plate fixation. Transverse and short oblique proximal phalanx fractures generally are treated with Kirschner wires, although a stable short oblique transverse shaft fracture can be managed with an intrinsic plus splint. Plate fixation is used in comminuted proximal phalanx as well as comminuted metacarpal fractures, and lag screws in spiral long oblique phalanx shaft fractures and metacarpal head fractures. Kirschner wire fixation is successful in metacarpal neck fractures as well as both short and long transverse oblique shaft fractures.

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