Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.
This month, Sanjeev Kakar, MD, author of the March 21, 2018 Specialty Update on Hand and Wrist Surgery, selected the five most clinically compelling findings from among the nearly 40 studies summarized in the Specialty Update.
Distal Radius Fractures
—When can a patient safely drive after surgical treatment of a distal radial fracture? According to a prospective study by Jones et al.1, most patients can do so within 3 weeks following surgery. Twenty-three patients had their driving evaluated 2 and 4 weeks after volar plating. Sixteen of the 23 patients drove safely on a closed course with both hands on their first attempt, which averaged 18 days after surgery.
—One factor contributing to scaphoid nonunion is impaired vascularity. So, if the proximal pole of the scaphoid is avascular, is the use of vascularized bone grafting mandatory? No, according to a prospective study by Rancy et al.2, which followed 35 scaphoid nonunion patients treated with curettage, nonvascularized bone grafting, and headless screw fixation. Nine of 23 proximal pole fractures demonstrated ischemia on MRI imaging; 28 of 33 were found to have impaired intraoperative punctate bleeding; and 18 patients had ≥50% tissue necrosis on pathological analysis. CT analysis revealed that 33 of the 35 scaphoids had healed by three months, leading the authors to conclude that nonvascularized bone grafting can suffice as long as the fracture is appropriately reduced and stabilized.
—Lichtman et al.3 introduced a new algorithm for Kienbock disease management that incorporates previous classification systems plus 5 treatment-guiding questions:
- How old is the patient?
- What is the effect of the disease on the lunate?
- How does the disease affect the wrist?
- What treatments are available?
- What are the patient’s requirements?
Depending on the answers, the authors present treatment options ranging from lunate reconstruction to wrist salvage.
—Some surgeons view radiographic evidence of a reverse oblique inclination in the sigmoid notch as a contraindication for ulnar shortening in patients with ulnar impaction. However, using MRI, Ross et al.4 noted that reverse oblique inclinations of the distal radioulnar joint, as seen on plain radiographs, were not evident when coronal MRI scans were analyzed. They concluded that some patients previously thought to have contraindications to ulnar shortening may in fact be suitable candidates for that procedure.
—Dwyer et al.5 evaluated an opioid-reduction strategy for patients undergoing carpal tunnel release or volar locking-plate fixation of distal radius fractures. Patients received education and encouragement to use over-the-counter (OTC) medications along with opioids. Among the carpal tunnel cohort (n = 121), the average opioid prescription was for 10 pills compared with 22 in the previous year. Average actual consumption was 3 opioid pills and 11 OTC pills. In the distal radius fracture group (n = 24), the average opioid prescription was 25 pills compared with 39 the year before. These patients consumed on average 16 opioid pills with 20 OTC pills. Patient satisfaction was high in both groups. The authors recommend that physicians prescribe 5 to 10 opioid pills for carpal tunnel release and 20 to 30 pills after volar plating for distal radius fractures.
- Jones CM, Ramsey RW, Ilyas A, Abboudi J, Kirkpatrick W, Kalina T, Leinberry C. Safe return to driving after volar plating of distal radius fractures. J Hand Surg Am. 2017 Sep;42(9):700-704.e2.
- Rancy SK, Swanstrom MM, DiCarlo EF, Sneag DB, Lee SK, Wolfe SW, Scaphoid Nonunion Consortium. Success of scaphoid nonunion surgery is independent of proximal pole vascularity. J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2017 Jan 1;1753193417732003.
- Lichtman DM, Pientka WF 2nd, Bain GI. Kienböck disease: a new algorithm for the 21st century. J Wrist Surg. 2017 Feb;6(1):2-10. Epub 2016 Oct 27.
- Ross M, Wiemann M, Peters SE, Benson R, Couzens GB. The influence of cartilage thickness at the sigmoid notch on inclination at the distal radioulnar joint. Bone Joint J. 2017 Mar;99-B(3):369-75.
- Dwyer CL, Soong MC, Hunter AA, Dashe J, Tolo ET, Kastayan NG. Prospective evaluation of an opioid reduction protocol in hand surgery. Read at the American Society for Surgery of the Hand Annual Meeting; 2017 Sep 7-9; San Francisco, CA. Paper no. 5.
Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of some of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in one of 13 orthopaedic subspecialties during the previous year. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.
This month, OrthoBuzz asked Sanjeev Kakar, MD, the author of the March 15, 2017 Specialty Update on hand and wrist surgery, to select five of the most clinically compelling findings from among the more than 40 he cited in the article.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
—The AAOS published updated clinical practice guidelines on the evaluation and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Among the conclusions are the following:
- Thenar atrophy is strongly associated with ruling in carpal tunnel syndrome but poorly associated with ruling it out.
- High body mass index and repetitive hand and wrist actions are associated with an increased risk of developing CTS.
- Surgical division of the transverse carpal ligament should relieve symptoms and improve function compared with nonoperative treatment.
- There is no benefit to routine postoperative immobilization after CTS surgery.
—If a distal radius fracture is displaced, especially in an elderly patient, should one proceed with nonoperative or operative treatment? A systematic review/meta-analysis1 involving more than 800 patients 60 years of age or older found that operatively treated patients had greater grip strength and better restoration of radiographic parameters than nonoperatively treated patients. However, those who underwent surgery also experienced more complications (primarily hardware-related) that required surgery.
Thumb and Digit Arthritis
—There are a myriad of treatments for the management of basilar thumb arthritis, ranging from trapeziectomy to fusion. Which one is better, especially if the scaphotrapeziotrapezoid joint is not involved? A prospective study was conducted randomizing women older than 40 with basal thumb joint arthritis to trapeziectomy and suspension arthroplasty or carpometacarpal joint arthrodesis. After a mean follow-up of 5.3 years, those in the trapeziectomy-suspension arthroplasty group had significantly better pain reduction and function.2 Researchers halted the study prematurely due to increased complications in the arthrodesis group.
Outcome Measurement Tools
—Among the many patient-reported outcome measures for the upper extremity, which should be used for which conditions? For distal radius fractures, a systematic approach has been proposed3 that captures outcomes across five domains: range of motion and grip strength, patient-reported scores of disability and function, complications, pain, and radiographs.4
—Is there any way to make the collection of patient-reported outcomes easier and less time-consuming? An assessment that compared two forms of computerized adaptive tests (CATs) with the DASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand) measure among 379 hand-clinic patients found that the CAT required fewer questions to complete than the DASH, yet maintained excellent reliability.5
- Chen Y, Chen X, Li Z, Yan H, Zhou F, Gao W. Safety and efficacy of operative versus nonsurgical management of distal radius fractures in elderly patients. A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Hand Surg Am. 2016 ;41(3):404–13. Epub 2016 Jan 20.
- Spekreijse KR, Selles RW, Kedilioglu MA, Slijper HP, Feitz R, Hovius SE, Vermeulen GM. Trapeziometacarpal arthrodesis or trapeziectomy with ligament reconstruction in primary trapeziometacarpal osteoarthritis: a 5-year follow-up. J Hand Surg Am. 2016 ;41(9):910–6.
- Teunis T, Ring D. Comprehensive outcome assessment after distal radius fracture. J Hand Surg Am. 2016 ;41(8):e257. Epub 2016 Jun 11.
- Waljee JF, Ladd A, MacDermid JC, Rozental TD, Wolfe SW, Distal Radius Outcomes Consortium. A unified approach to outcomes assessment for distal radius fractures. J Hand Surg Am. 2016;41(4):565–73.
- Beckmann JT, Hung M, Voss MW, Crum AB, Bounsanga J, Tyser AR. Evaluation of the patient-reported outcomes measurement information system upper extremity computer adaptive test. J Hand Surg Am. 2016 ;41(7):739–744.e4. Epub 2016 Jun 3.
In my 20-plus years serving as a deputy editor and editor of JBJS, I have never seen the kind of media interest in research published in The Journal that the Harper et al. study on distal radius fractures in older men has received.
This well-done retrospective evaluation of 95 males and 344 females who were treated for a distal radius fracture at a single institution has been discussed in multiple forums and media outlets, including the national newswire services, scientific and clinical blog sites, and health reports on local and national TV newscasts.
One conclusion from the Harper et al. analysis was that males older than 50 who had a distal radius fracture are receiving far worse follow-up care compared to females with the same characteristics in terms of bone-mineral density testing and subsequent pharmacologic treatment to prevent future fractures. For example, an older male with a fragility-caused distal radius fracture is nearly 10 times less likely to undergo bone-density testing than a woman with the same fracture. What is so newsworthy about this finding as to prompt headlines such as “Gender Bias in Osteoporosis Screening”?
My hypothesis is that orthopaedic research has focused too much on procedural-based interventions. When research such as the Harper et al. study extends beyond developing new therapies to matters of population health and application of evidence-based therapies, the public pays especially close attention. Previous OrthoBuzz posts by my JBJS predecessor Vern Tolo, MD and JBJS Reviews Editor-in-Chief Tom Einhorn, MD have called on clinicians to take a more aggressive approach toward primary and secondary prevention of fragility fractures. JBJS commentator Douglas Dirschl, MD says that the gender disparity revealed by Harper et al. “should shock the medical community into improved performance.”
Orthopaedic surgeons are increasingly working in teams consisting of family physicians with additional musculoskeletal training, radiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, PTs, OTs, and athletic trainers. As our field expands its scope to “musculoskeletal health, prevention, and treatment” and away from exclusively invasive interventions, let’s continue to invite the public along. Based on the media coverage of the Harper et al. study, the public appears to be a willing partner in our attempts to reduce the risk of fragility fractures.
Do you think including preventive and population-health perspectives is the right direction for our field? Send us a comment of support or a dissenting view by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button in the box to the left.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD