Posttraumatic osteoarthritis can develop after an intra-articular extremity fracture, leading to pain and loss of function. According to international guidelines, anatomical reduction and fixation are the basis for an optimal functional result. In order to achieve this during fracture surgery, an optimal view on the position of the bone fragments and fixation material is a necessity. The currently used 2D-fluoroscopy does not provide sufficient insight, in particular in cases with complex anatomy or subtle injury, and even an 18-26% suboptimal fracture reduction is reported for the ankle and foot. More intra-operative information is therefore needed.
Recently the 3D-RX-system was developed, which provides conventional 2D-fluoroscopic images as well as a 3D-reconstruction of bony structures. This modality provides more information, which consequently leads to extra corrections in 18-30% of the fracture operations. However, the effect of the extra corrections on the quality of the anatomical fracture reduction and fixation as well as on patient relevant outcomes has never been investigated.
The objective of this study protocol is to investigate the effectiveness of the intra-operative use of the 3D-RX-system as compared to the conventional 2D-fluoroscopy in patients with traumatic intra-articular fractures of the wrist, ankle and calcaneus. The effectiveness will be assessed in two different areas: 1) the quality of fracture reduction and fixation, based on the current golden standard, Computed Tomography. 2) The patient-relevant outcomes like functional outcome range of motion and pain. In addition, the diagnostic accuracy of the 3D-RX-scan will be determined in a clinical setting and a cost-effectiveness as well as a cost-utility analysis will be performed.
In this protocol for an international multicenter randomized clinical trial, adult patients (age > 17 years) with a traumatic intra-articular fracture of the wrist, ankle or calcaneus eligible for surgery will be subjected to additional intra-operative 3D-RX. In half of the patients the surgeon will be blinded to these results, in the other half the surgeon may use the 3D-RX results to further optimize fracture reduction. In both randomization groups a CT-scan will be performed postoperatively. Based on these CT-scans the quality of fracture reduction and fixation will be determined. During the follow-up visits after hospital discharge at 6 and 12 weeks and 1 year postoperatively the patient relevant outcomes will be determined by joint specific, health economic and quality of life questionnaires. In addition a follow up study will be performed to determine the patient relevant outcomes and prevalence of posttraumatic osteoarthritis at 2 and 5 years postoperatively.
The results of the study will provide more information on the effectiveness of the intra-operative use of 3D-imaging during surgical treatment of intra-articular fractures of the wrist, ankle and calcaneus. A randomized design in which patients will be allocated to a treatment arm during surgery will be used because of its high methodological quality and the ability to detect incongruences in the reduction and/or fixation that occur intra-operatively in the blinded arm of the 3D-RX. An alternative, pragmatic design could be to randomize before the start of the surgery, then two surgical strategies would be compared. This resembles clinical practice better, but introduces more bias and does not allow the assessment of incongruences that would have been detected by 3D-RX in the blinded arm.
Dutch Trial Register NTR 1902