Conservative interventions for treating distal radial fractures in adults.

Helen Handoll, R. Madhok

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Fracture of the distal radius is a common clinical problem particularly in elderly white women with osteoporosis. OBJECTIVES: To determine the most appropriate conservative treatment for fractures of the distal radius in adults. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Injuries Group specialised register (November 2002), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2003), MEDLINE (1966 to January week 1 2003), EMBASE (1988 to 2003 Week 3), CINAHL (1982 to December week 4 2002), the National Research Register (up to Issue 4, 2002), PEDro, conference proceedings and reference lists of articles. No language restrictions were applied. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised or quasi-randomised clinical trials involving skeletally mature patients with a fracture of the distal radius, which compared commonly applied conservative interventions for fracture fixation. These included the application of an external support (plaster cast or brace) and fracture manipulation. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: All trials, judged as fitting the selection criteria by both reviewers, were independently assessed by both reviewers for methodological quality. Data were extracted for anatomical, functional and clinical, including complications, outcomes. The trials were grouped into categories relating to manipulation of displaced fractures; use and extent, including forearm position, of immobilisation; use of braces; different casting materials and techniques; and duration of immobilisation. Although quantitative data from some trials are presented, the lack of good quality trials and trial heterogeneity inhibited pooling of results. MAIN RESULTS: Three trials were newly included in this update. In all, there are 36 trials, involving a total of 4114 mainly female and older patients, meeting the inclusion criteria for this review. Comprehensive details of the individual trials are provided in tabular form, and their results, grouped as indicated above, have been presented in text and analyses tables. The poor quality and heterogeneity in terms of patient characteristics, interventions compared and outcome measurement, of the included trials meant that no meta-analyses were undertaken. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: There remains insufficient evidence from randomised trials to determine which methods of conservative treatment are the most appropriate for the more common types of distal radial fractures in adults. Therefore, at present, practitioners applying conservative management should use an accepted technique with which they are familiar, and which is cost-effective from the perspective of their provider unit. Patient preferences and circumstances, and the risk of complications should also be considered. Prioritising research questions to clarify the most appropriate conservative treatment for this common fracture is warranted. Researchers should differentiate between extra-articular and intra-articular, and non-displaced and displaced fractures, ascertain patient preferences, and agree a core outcome data set.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCochrane database of systematic reviews (Online)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003


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