Trends in the Management of Fifth Metacarpal Neck Fractures

Published:October 07, 2022DOI:


      To describe management trends of fifth metacarpal neck (5MCN) fractures within a large health care system. We aimed to define patient and surgeon factors associated with nonsurgical versus surgical treatment, as well as to identify factors associated with receiving care only in the emergency department (ED).


      We identified all 5MCN fractures within our system for the years 2012–2020 and recorded baseline demographics for cases. Injury, treatment, and fracture characteristics were all recorded. For fractures treated nonsurgically, we determined the type of immobilization used (if any) and recorded whether patients were seen only in the ED or received subsequent outpatient follow-up. Demographic comparisons were made between groups, and adjusted logistic regression models were generated to predict the odds of having a surgical 5MCN fracture or being seen in the ED only.


      There were 611 5MCN fractures over an 8-year period, of which 10% were treated surgically. During the first half of the study period, 8% of isolated cases were treated surgically compared with 7% of cases in the second half. Soft dressings were increasingly used. There were no nonsurgically managed cases that underwent subsequent surgical procedures for symptomatic nonunion or malunion. Twenty-one percent of patients were seen only in the ED. Fracture angulation, associated injuries, insurance status, and treatment by a hand surgeon were all significantly associated with an increased likelihood of surgery.


      Of the 611 5MCN fractures identified, 90% were treated nonsurgically. Patient and surgeon factors were associated with increased odds of surgery. Of patients who sought care for 5MCN injuries, >20% received no follow-up care outside of the ED. These data can be used to assess future changes in management trends and suggest that nonunion and symptomatic malunions are uncommon occurrences.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Prognostic IV.

      Key words

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