Extracorporeal shockwaves versus surgery in the treatment of pseudoarthrosis of the carpal scaphoid

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2010 Aug;36(8):1306-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2010.05.004.


The peculiar anatomical characteristics and precarious vascularization of the carpal scaphoid are responsible for a difficult healing of fractures and a fairly frequent subsequent evolution to pseudoarthrosis. Recently, extracorporeal shockwaves therapy (ESWT) has yielded encouraging results in the treatment of pseudoarthrosis of various bone segments. We report a retrospective study comparing the results of application of three sessions of shockwaves therapy (SW) with energy flux density (EFD) impulses of 0.09 (SD = 0.02) mJ/mm(2) ESWT emitted by an electromagnetic generator in 58 patients (group I) affected by pseudoarthrosis of the carpal scaphoid, with the results of surgical treatment consisting of stabilization and bone graft according to the Matti-Russe technique, performed in 60 subjects (controls, group II). There were no statistically significant differences in the mean duration of the pseudoarthrosis (p = 0.46), sex distribution (p = 0.41) and mean age at recruitment (p = 0.95) between the two patient groups. Posttreatment clinical-functional assessment, based on the Mayo Wrist Score, showed a significantly improved score, rising from 28-74.6 in group I already after 2 mo (p < 0.001), with 86.3% of the results judged as satisfactory or excellent; in group II the mean score rose from 27.5-74.2 after 2 mo, with 83.4% of the results judged as satisfactory or excellent (p < 0.001). At the same two-months follow-up (FU), radiographic consolidation was shown in 75.9% of patients in group I and 76.7% in group II. These improvements persisted at the subsequent controls at six and 12 mo in both groups. The Mayo Wrist Score and X-rays did not show statistically significant differences at the various FU visits in the two groups (p > 0.05). On the basis of our data, we can conclude that the results of ESWT are comparable with those of surgical stabilization and bone graft in the treatment of scaphoid pseudoarthrosis. In view of their minimal invasiveness, shockwaves should therefore be considered the treatment of choice of this disorder.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lithotripsy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteotomy*
  • Pseudarthrosis / therapy*
  • Scaphoid Bone / radiation effects*
  • Scaphoid Bone / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome