Researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery have launched a study to determine whether a novel implant device that would allow less invasive surgery for broken wrists could lead to faster recoveries, less post-operative pain, and fewer complications compared with conventional surgery.
The study will follow patients between the ages of 18 and 80 who require surgery for a distal radius fracture. It will also compile data on the clinical and functional outcomes of an FDA-approved device that requires a much smaller incision and may lead to better results.
“The most common surgery entails the use of a metal plate and screws to repair the broken bone, which lies in direct contact with the tendons to the fingers,” said Scott Wolfe, MD, Chief Emeritus of the Hand and Upper Extremity Service at HSS in a press release. “The new method, known as intramedullary fixation, has recently received more attention because of the minimally invasive procedure required for device implantation, and the fact that no tendons or nerves are touched by the hardware.”
The novel implant is prepackaged into a small tube that is then inserted into the wrist through a 1-inch incision. The surgeon eventually (and carefully) expands the device to support the collapsed bone.
“We are studying these implants because it is possible that the less invasive procedure may allow patients to heal faster and return more quickly to normal activities,” Dr. Wolfe. “Conventional surgery has been linked to tendon rupture, irritation from hardware and hardware removal in a small percentage of cases. A potential advantage of the less invasive procedure is that it avoids trauma to surrounding tendons, nerves, vessels and muscles during surgery. In addition, the new implant is placed within the bone instead of on its surface, so there is very little exposed metal that could irritate the soft tissues.”