Subacute scaphoid fractures. A closer look at closed treatment

Gregory R. Mack, John H. Wilckens, Scott A. McPherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Twenty-three subacute scaphoid fractures were retrospectively reviewed to determine the efficacy of nonoperative treatment. All of the patients sought medical attention between 4 weeks and 6 months after injury, and their fractures were classified according to location and stability. Nineteen fractures were observed to radiographic union or until closed treatment was abandoned; four patients were lost to followup. Nine of 10 stable subacute middle-third scaphoid fractures healed with cast immobilization in an average of 19 weeks (range, 11 to 38), and these were compared with a randomly selected group of acute middle-third fractures that healed in an average of 10 weeks (range, 6 to 13). Five of six unstable subacute middle-third fractures healed in an average of 20 weeks. One of these had a symptomatic humpback deformity treated by cheilectomy. Of three subacute proximal-third fractures, only one healed after 29 weeks of closed treatment. This study demonstrates that stable subacute middle-third scaphoid fractures will heal with cast treatment but may take twice as long to do so as stable acute middle-third fractures. Unstable subacute middle-third scaphoid fractures and subacute proximal-third fractures appear less likely to heal with closed treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-58
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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