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Understanding Variations in the Management of Displaced Distal Radius Fractures With Satisfactory Reduction.

BACKGROUND: The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has set forth Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) to help guide management of closed, displaced distal radius fractures (DRFs). There still exists variation in practice regarding operative vs nonoperative decision-making. This study aims to identify which factors influence the decision to treat DRFs not indicated for surgery by the CPGs after initial closed reduction.

METHODS: Fifteen sets of DRFs and clinical vignettes were distributed via email to over 75 orthopedic residency programs, Orthopaedic Trauma Association, and New York Society for Surgery of the Hand membership. A Qualtrics survey collected respondent demographics, choice of treatment, and rationale.

RESULTS: Responses were received from 106 surgeons and resident trainees. The odds of selecting operative management for fractures with 5 or more radiographic instability signs versus 3 or 4 was 3.11 ( P < .05). Age over 65, higher patient activity level, and dominant-hand injury were associated with greater odds of operative management (3.4, 30.28, and 2.54, respectively). In addition, surgeons with more years in practice and high-volume surgeons had greater odds of selecting operative management (2.43 and 2.11, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Assessment of instability at the time of injury, patient age and activity level, as well as surgeon volume and time in practice independently affect the decision to manage well-reduced DRF with surgical or nonsurgical treatment. The source of heterogeneity in the treatment of these fractures is borne at least in part from a lack of formal direction on the importance of prereduction instability from the CPGs.

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