Send to

Choose Destination
J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2008 Jun;90(6):1176-85. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.G.00673.

Nonoperative compared with operative treatment of acute scaphoid fractures. A randomized clinical trial.

Author information

Department of Hand Surgery, Uppsala University Hospital, SE-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden.



Traditionally, acute nondisplaced scaphoid fractures have been treated nonoperatively in a cast, and the expected union rate approaches 90%. Internal fixation of nondisplaced scaphoid fractures has increased in popularity, and a union rate of 100% has been reported. The growing trend is to recommend internal fixation for the majority of acute scaphoid fractures. The true long-term benefits of this more complicated treatment modality have not yet been determined in randomized controlled trials. The purpose of this study was to compare the long-term results of operative fixation of acute scaphoid fractures with those of nonoperative treatment.


During the period between 1992 and 1997, eighty-three patients with an acute nondisplaced or minimally displaced scaphoid fracture were randomly allocated to, and received, either nonoperative treatment with a cast or internal fixation with a Herbert screw. At a median of ten years after the injury, seventy-five (93%) of the eighty-one patients who were still alive were assessed clinically and radiographically.


All fractures united. A significant increase in the prevalence of osteoarthritis in the scaphotrapezial joint was found in the operatively treated group. No differences in subjective symptoms, as measured with limb-specific outcome scores, were found between the two groups. The range of motion and grip strength were greater, but not significantly greater, in the nonoperatively treated group.


This study did not demonstrate a true long-term benefit of internal fixation, compared with nonoperative treatment, for acute nondisplaced or minimally displaced scaphoid fractures. The long-term risks of surgery should be considered when recommending operative treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center