Home > For Consumers > Interventions for treating mallet finger...

PubMed Health. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet]. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2003-.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet].

Interventions for treating mallet finger injuries

This version published: 2008; Review content assessed as up-to-date: March 19, 2008.

Plain language summary

Mallet finger, also called drop or baseball finger, is where the end of a finger cannot be actively straightened out due to injury. Typically the skin remains intact, and the impairment results from a tear of a finger tendon or a small fracture where the tendon attaches to the bone. Treatment commonly involves immobilising the finger‐end in a splint for six or more weeks. Surgery may be used for more severe injuries.

Four randomised trials were included in the review. These involved a total of 278, mainly adult, participants with 283 mallet finger injuries. The methods of all four trials were flawed leading to concerns about bias. There was no pooling of data.

Three trials compared different types of finger splints versus a standard Stack splint. One trial found less treatment failure in participants treated with a perforated custom‐made splint. A second trial found there were fewer complications in participants treated with a padded aluminium‐alloy malleable finger splint. However, the incidence of treatment failure was similar in the two treatment groups of this trial. The third trial evaluated the Abouna splint and found a similar incidence of treatment failure in the two groups. However, the Abouna splint often needed replacing due to disintegration of its rubber cover and rusting of the exposed wires and was also less popular with participants.

The fourth trial in the review found no significant differences between participants whose mallet finger was treated with Kirschner wire fixation and those with a Pryor and Howard splint. Similar numbers had complications in the two groups.

The review concluded that there was not enough evidence to show which is the best way to treat mallet finger injury. It noted, however, that splints used for prolonged immobilisation should be robust enough for everyday use.

Abstract

Background: Mallet finger, also called drop or baseball finger, is where the end of a finger cannot be actively straightened out due to injury of the extensor tendon mechanism. Treatment commonly involves splintage of the finger for six or more weeks. Less frequently, surgical fixation is used to correct the deformity.

Objectives: To examine the evidence for the relative effectiveness of different methods of treating mallet finger injuries.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group Specialised Register (March 2008), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library 2008, Issue 1), MEDLINE (1966 to March week 1 2008), EMBASE (1988 to 2008 week 11), other databases, reference lists of articles and various conference proceedings.

Selection criteria: Randomised or quasi‐randomised clinical trials evaluating different interventions, including no intervention, for treating mallet finger injuries.

Data collection and analysis: Both authors independently performed study selection, quality assessment and data extraction. Study authors were contacted for additional information.

Main results: Four trials were included. These involved a total of 278, mainly adult, participants with 283 mallet finger injuries. All four trials were methodologically flawed, including inadequate outcome assessment.

Three trials compared different types of finger splints versus a standard Stack splint. One trial found a lower incidence of treatment failure in participants treated with a perforated custom‐made splint. One trial found there were fewer complications in participants treated with a padded aluminium‐alloy malleable finger splint; however, the incidence of treatment failure was similar in the two treatment groups. One trial evaluating the Abouna splint found a similar incidence of treatment failure in the two groups. However, the Abouna splint often needed replacing due to disintegration of its rubber cover and rusting of the exposed wires and was also less popular with participants.

The fourth trial found no statistically significant differences between participants whose mallet finger was treated with Kirschner wire fixation and those with a Pryor and Howard splint. Similar numbers had complications in the two groups.

Authors' conclusions: There was insufficient evidence from comparisons tested within randomised controlled trials to establish the relative effectiveness of different, either custom‐made or off‐the‐shelf, finger splints used for treating mallet finger injury. There was a useful reminder that splints used for prolonged immobilisation should be robust enough for everyday use, and of the central importance of patient adherence to instructions for splint use. There was insufficient evidence to determine when surgery is indicated.

Editorial Group: Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group.

Publication status: New search for studies and content updated (no change to conclusions).

Citation: Handoll HHG, Vaghela MV. Interventions for treating mallet finger injuries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD004574. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004574.pub2. Link to Cochrane Library. [PubMed: 15266538]

Copyright © 2008 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID: 15266538

PubMed Health Blog...

read all...

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...