Trigger finger is a common condition with a lifetime prevalence of 2%. Corticosteroid injection is a treatment often considered as a first-line intervention with reported cure rates between 60% and 90% in observational cohorts. Nevertheless, open surgery remains the most effective treatment with reported cure rates near 100%. Head-to-head trials on these treatments are limited. We investigated the efficacy of open surgery compared with ultrasound-guided corticosteroid injections.
The study was performed as a single-center, randomized, controlled trial with a 1-year follow-up. A total of 165 patients received either open surgery (n = 81) or ultrasound-guided corticosteroid injection (n = 84). Follow-up was conducted at 3 and 12 months. If the finger had normal movement or normal movement with discomfort at latest follow-up, the outcome was considered a success. Secondary outcomes were postprocedural pain and complications.
The groups were similar at baseline except for lower alcohol consumption in the open surgery group. At 3 months, 86% and 99% were successfully treated after corticosteroid injection and open surgery, respectively. At 12 months, 49% and 99% were considered successfully treated after corticosteroid injection and open surgery, respectively. The pain score at latest follow-up was significantly higher in the corticosteroid injection group. Complications after open surgery were more severe and included 3 superficial infections and 1 iatrogenic nerve lesion. After corticosteroid injection 11 patients experienced a steroid flare and 2 had fat necrosis at the site of injection.
Open surgery is superior to ultrasound-guided corticosteroid injections. Complications after open surgery are more severe; this must be taken into account when advising patients with regard to treatment.
Type of study/level of evidence
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Published online: March 21, 2017
Accepted: February 17, 2017
Received: August 16, 2016
No benefits in any form have been received or will be received related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.
© 2017 by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. All rights reserved.