Traditionally, distal radial fractures with marked displacement and angulation have been treated with closed or open reduction techniques. Reduction maneuvers generally require analgesia and sedation, which increase hospital time, cost, patient risk, and the surgeon’s time. In our study, a treatment protocol for pediatric distal radial fractures was used in which the fracture was left shortened in an overriding position and a cast was applied without an attempt at anatomic fracture reduction.
Consecutive patients three to ten years of age presenting between 2004 and 2009 with a closed overriding fracture of the distal radial metaphysis were followed prospectively. Our protocol consisted of no analgesia, no sedation, and a short arm fiberglass cast gently molded to correct only angulation. Patients were followed for at least one year. All parents or guardians were given a questionnaire assessing their satisfaction with the treatment. Financial analysis was performed with use of Current Procedural Terminology codes and the average total cost of care.
Fifty-one children with an average age of 6.9 years were included in the study. Initial radial shortening averaged 5.0 mm. Initial sagittal and coronal angulation averaged 4.0° and 3.2°, respectively. The average duration of casting was forty-two days. Residual sagittal and coronal angulation at the time of final follow-up averaged 2.2° and 0.8°, respectively. All fifty-one patients achieved clinical and radiographic union with a full range of wrist motion. All parents and guardians answered the questionnaire and were satisfied with the treatment. Cost analysis demonstrated that closed reduction with the patient under conscious sedation or general anesthesia is nearly five to six times more expensive than the treatment used in this study. Adding percutaneous pin fixation increases costs nearly ninefold.
This treatment protocol presents an alternative approach to overriding distal radial fractures in children and provides the orthopaedic surgeon a simple, effective, and cost and time-efficient method of treatment.
Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1University of Hawaii Orthopaedics Residency Program, 1356 Lusitana Street, 6th Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813
2Children’s Orthopaedics of Hawaii, Pali Momi Medical Office Building, 98-1079 Moanalua Road, Suite 600, Aiea, HI 96701. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org