Every month, JBJS publishes a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in one of 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz subspecialty summaries.
This month, Christopher J. Dy, MD, MPH, author of the March 20, 2019 “What’s New in Hand Surgery,” selected the five most compelling findings from among the 47 noteworthy studies summarized in the article.
Distal Radial Fractures
—A randomized trial comparing volar plate fixation to cast management in patients >60 years of age who had AO type-C distal radial fractures1 found that the volar plating group had better Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation scores than the casting group after a minimum 24 months of follow-up. Maintenance of reduction was also better in the volar plating group. These findings are contrary to those of a similar randomized trial published in 2011, suggesting that there are patient-level and surgeon-level differences between the 2 environments in which the studies were conducted.
—Among 175 elderly patients with distal radial fractures treated nonoperatively and who showed acceptable radiographic reduction at 1 to 2 weeks, 28% had late displacement or malunion at the 3-month follow-up.2 Relative to cases in which reduction was maintained, cases with late displacement or malunion had lower grip strength and loss of the total wrist range of motion. However, there was no between-group difference in patient-reported functional measures, and the incidence of the most common complication—carpal tunnel syndrome—was the same in both groups.
—Findings from a biomechanical study with cadavers suggest that 50% cortical healing of a scaphoid fracture after open reduction and internal fixation with a compression screw is sufficient to allow unrestricted activity.3 Constructs with a 50% osteotomy and compression screw showed the same load to failure as intact scaphoids, but load to failure in a group with a 75% osteotomy and compression screw was lower than that in the intact scaphoid group.
—Traditionally, surgeons have emphasized proximal pole vascularity in cases of scaphoid nonunion. However, a study of 35 scaphoid nonunions treated with nonvascularized bone grafting and a headless compression screw4 found that 33 fractures went on to union, despite evidence of compromised proximal pole vascularity in 14 of 32 patients who had histopathological data available.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
—A cross-sectional study analyzing data from 367 patients who presented for evaluation of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)5 found that those with the poorest socioeconomic status had worse PROMIS scores for physical function, pain interference, depression, and anxiety, compared with those in the least-deprived quartile. Deprived patients were also more likely to have a higher comorbidity burden and to use tobacco, both of which may influence outcomes after CTS treatment.
- Martinez-Mendez D, Lizaur-Utrilla A, de-Juan-Herrero J. Intra-articular distal radius fractures in elderly patients: a randomized prospective study of casting versus volar plating. J Hand Surg Eur Vol.2018 Feb;43(2):142-7. Epub 2017 Sep 4
- Wadsten MÅ, Sjödén GO, Buttazzoni GG, Buttazzoni C, Englund E, Sayed-Noor AS. The influence of late displacement in distal radius fractures on function, grip strength, range of motion and quality of life. J Hand Surg Eur Vol.2018 Feb;43(2):131-6. Epub 2017 Jul 31.
- Guss MS, Mitgang JT, Sapienza A. Scaphoid healing required for unrestricted activity: a biomechanical cadaver model. J Hand Surg Am.2018 Feb;43(2):134-8. Epub 2017 Nov 7.
- 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.2018 Jan;43(1):32-40. Epub 2017 Sep 24.
- Wright MA, Beleckas CM, Calfee RP. Mental and physical health disparities in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome living with high levels of social deprivation. J Hand Surg Am.2018 Jun 23. [Epub ahead of print].
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.