Objectives: Buckle fractures are inherently stable and at low risk for displacement. These advantages allow for treatment options that may create confusion for the practitioner. Accepted immobilization methods include circumferential cast, plaster or prefabricated splint, and soft bandaging. Despite mounting evidence for splinting, the questions of pain, preference, satisfaction, and convenience offer a challenge to changing practice. The purposes of this study were (1) to compare cast versus splint for distal radial buckle fractures in terms of parental and patient satisfaction, convenience, and preference and (2) to compare pain reported for cast versus splint.
Methods: We conducted a prospective randomized trial of a convenience sample of patients 2 through 17 years with a radiologically confirmed distal radial buckle fracture. Subjects were randomly assigned to short-arm cast or prefabricated wrist splint. We assessed satisfaction, convenience, preference, and pain in the emergency department and at days 1, 3, 7, and 21 after immobilization.
Results: Ninety-four patients were enrolled. Compared with the cast group, those in the splint group reported higher levels of satisfaction, preference, and convenience on 10-point visual analog scale. Although pain scores were higher for those in the splint group, the difference was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: With the exception of pain reported in the emergency department being higher for the splinted group, all other measures, including convenience, satisfaction, and preference, showed a clear trend favoring splints at almost every time period in the study. This study provides additional evidence that splinting is preferable to casting for the treatment of distal radial buckle fractures.