Colles' type distal radial fractures undergoing manipulation in the ED: a multicentre observational cohort study
JournalEmergency Medicine Journal
Rights© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.
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Background: Colles' type fractures of the distal radius are one of the most commonly manipulated fractures in the ED. Local audit data suggest that a high proportion of these injuries undergo subsequent surgical fixation. If widespread, this could represent a potential burden on patients and the NHS worthy of further research. The aims of this study were to estimate the rate of surgical fixation of Colles' type distal radial fractures after ED fracture manipulation and explore variations in their management in UK EDs. Methods: We conducted a multicentre observational study in 16 EDs in the UK from 4 February 2019 to 31 March 2019. All adult patients with a Colles' fracture who underwent fracture manipulation in the ED were included. Patients who could not be followed up and those with volar displaced fractures were excluded. We measured the rate of wrist fracture surgery at 6 weeks, patient demographics and variations in anaesthetic technique used. Results: During the study period, 328 adult patients attended the participating EDs with a distal radial fracture. Of these, 83 patients underwent fracture manipulation in the ED and were eligible for the study. Their mean age (SD) was 65.3 (17.0) years, 84.3% were female and the most common method of anaesthesia used was haematoma block (38.6%). 34 (41.0%, 95 % CI 30.3 to 52.3) patients had subsequent surgical fixation of their fracture. Younger age was associated with higher rates of surgical fixation but ED anaesthetic technique did not affect the subsequent need for surgery in this sample. Conclusion: Subsequent surgical fixation was carried out in 41% of patients who underwent manipulation of Colles' type wrist fractures in this cohort. This merits further research and represents a potential target to rationalise repeat procedures.