Hand and finger fractures

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  • Splinting is used in the initial immobilization of, and often is the definitive treatment for, metacarpal fractures
  • Maintenance of the MCP joint in flexion is important to avoid immobility contractures of the collateral ligaments


Thumb metacarpal Fx

  • Classification
    • Type I (Bennett's Fx)
      • Fx-dislocation of the base of the metacarpal (intraarticular)
    • Type II (Rolando's Fx)
      • Comminuted version of a Bennett's fracture (intraarticular)
    • Type III
      • Extraarticular (transverse or oblique)
    • Type IV
      • Extraarticular pediatric fx involving the proximal physis
  • Examination
    • Important to distinguish tenderness at base of 1st MC from injury to scaphoid, trapezium, or distal radius
    • If pain or ecchymosis occurs more distally at the MCP (particularly on the ulnar side) consider ulnar collateral ligament injury (Game Keeper's Thumb)
  • Imaging
    • AP, lateral, oblique
  • Treatment
    • Splinting
      • Type I, II - Thumb-spica with the IP joint free and wrist in 30� of extension
      • Type III - Short arm thumb-spica extening to the IP joint and wrist in 30� of extension
    • RICE
      • Significant swelling or overly aggressive icing to radial side of thumb may result in temporary palsy to the superficial radial nerve (numbness over the dorsum of the thumb)
    • Reduction
      • Indicated for:
        • Angulated extraarticular fx if clinician is comfortable with the procedure�
  • Dispo
    • Refer within 3-5 days:
      • All intraarticular fractures warrant referral (most require sx)
      • Extraarticular fractures that cannot be adequately reduced


Non-Thumb Metacarpal Head Fx

  • Intra-articular Fx
  • Examination
    • Swelling, decreased ROM, and TTP of MCP joint
    • Assess for rotational alignment (rotational malalignment is not tolerated)
    • Assess for skin integrity (r/o fight bite)
  • Imaging
    • AP, lateral, oblique
      • Angulation assessed on lateral view
    • Consider "Brewerton" view if collateral ligament avulsion fx suspected
  • Treatment
    • Ulnar or radial gutter splint
      • MCP joints in 70-90� flexion, wrist in 20-30� extension, PIP and DIP joints in 5-10� of flexion
  • Dispo
    • Almost always refer b/c are intraarticular and typically comminuted
    • Non-displaced fx can be splinted for 2-3 weeks followed by ROM exercises

Non-Thumb Metacarpal Neck Fx

  • Examination
    • TTP or ecchymosis on the palmar bony surface is highly suggestive of fracture
    • Loss of the normal knuckle contour
      • Due to dorsal angulation of fracture apex due to pull of the interosseous muscles
    • Assess angulation
      • Head-to-neck angle of the metacarpals is normally 15 degrees
        • Fracture angulation = measured angle minus 15�
      • Angle toleration (below which there is no adverse functional outcome)
        • 2nd MC < 10��
        • 3rd MC < 20�
        • 4th MC < 30�
        • 5th MC < 30��
    • Assess rotational alignment
    • Assess extensor apparatus
    • Assess skin integrity
  • Treatment
    • Gutter splint
      • MCP joints in 70-90� flexion, wrist in 20-30� extension, PIP and DIP joints in 5-10� of flexion
    • Acute reduction indicated:
      • Pseudoclawing
      • Significantly angulated 4th or 5th MC fx
  • Dispo
    • Refer for:
      • Comminution
      • Rotational malalignment�

Non-Thumb Metacarpal Shaft Fx

  • Examination
    • TTP along affected metacarpal
    • Flexion at MCP is difficult
    • Assess for extensor dysfunction; pt may exhibit "pseudo-clawing" during attempts at finger extension
    • Assess angulation
      • >10� in 2nd and 3rd and >20� in 4th and 5th metacarpal shaft fractures requires reduction
    • Assess rotational alignment
  • Imaging
    • Oblique fx are more prone to shorten and rotate
    • Transverse fx generally stable (particularly isolated 3rd or 4th MC shaft fx)
  • Treatment
    • Gutter splint
    • Acute reduction indicated if there is pseudo-clawing or significant angulation
      • Closed reduction generally corrects angulation but typically does not restore length
  • Dispo
    • Refer:
      • Malrotation
      • Comminution
      • Shortening > 5mm (refer all shortening if not familiar with fx management)
      • 2 or more metacarpal fractures
      • Unacceptable angulation
      • Long oblique fractres

Non-Thumb Metacarpal Base Fx

  • Examination
    • Movement at the wrist elicits pain
    • Assess for ulnar deficits (finger abduction/adduction)
    • Assess for rotational alignment
  • Imaging
    • AP, lateral, oblique
    • 30� obliques pronated and supinated if usual films unable to visualize the MC bases
    • Consider CT if index of suspicion high for occult fx despite "negative" plain films
  • Treatment
    • Dorsal and volar splints with the wrist in 30� of extension and MCP joints free
  • Dispo
    • Refer for:
      • Intraarticular fx
      • Etraarticular fx with malrotation
      • Dislocation of metacarpal base CMC joint;
      • Ulnar nerve injury
      • 5th metacarpal base fx (typically require sx)