How do we treat wrist fractures in the elderly?

Treatment Received by Patient Age Group (PDF)

Distal radius fracture (DRF) predominantly affects the elderly population, with some 80,000 fractures sustained per year, costing the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $632 million. These fractures have traditionally been treated with casting, a conservative and relatively inexpensive treatment. But the use of internal fixation in elderly patients is growing, according to the results of a study presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

The study, presented by Kevin C. Chung, MD, MS, identified 85,924 patients aged 65 years or older who had received treatment within 2 weeks of DRF diagnosis. Although 74 percent of patients were treated with casting, 17 percent underwent internal fixation, 7.6 percent received percutaneous pinning, and 1.3 percent received external fixation. Internal fixation had the highest rate of 90-day major complications—nearly 6 percent of cases.

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