To compare clinical and radiographic outcomes between intramedullary nail fixation and percutaneous K-wire fixation for fractures in the distal third portion of the metacarpal bone.
A single-institutional retrospective review identified 41 consecutive cases of metacarpal fractures between September 2009 and August 2013. Each of the cases met the inclusion criteria for closed, extra-articular fractures of the distal third of the metacarpal bone. The patients were divided by the method of fixation (intramedullary nailing or K-wire). Outcomes were compared for mean and median total active motion of the digit, radiographic parameters, and period until return to work. Complications and symptoms were determined by a questionnaire.
During the period under review, 41 patients met the inclusion criteria, and the fractures were managed with either intramedullary nailing (n=19) or percutaneous K-wire fixation (n=22). The mean and median total active range of motion and radiographic healing showed no statistically significant difference between the two groups. No union failures were observed in either group. The mean operation time was shorter by an average of 14 minutes for the percutaneous K-wire fixation group. However, the intramedullary nailing group returned to work earlier by an average of 2.3 weeks. Complications were reported only in the K-wire fixation group.
Intramedullary nailing fixation is advisable for fractures in the distal third of the metacarpal bone. It provides early recovery of the range of motion, an earlier return to work, and lower complication rates, despite potentially requiring a wire removal procedure at the patient's request.