A Comparison of K-Wire Versus Screw Fixation on the Outcomes of Distal Phalanx Fractures

J Hand Surg Am. 2015 Nov;40(11):2160-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2015.06.125. Epub 2015 Oct 1.


Purpose: To compare K-wire and screw fixation of distal phalanx (DP) fractures with respect to union and functional outcome.

Methods: This retrospective study identified patients with DP fractures from a clinic registry taken from 2007 to 2013. Clinical data collected included patient demographics, range of motion (ROM), removal of implant (ROI), and complications. Radiographic data collected included fracture type, location, configuration, fracture displacement, and radiographic union. Statistical analysis was done using a chi-squared test for categorical variables and paired Student's t test for continuous variables.

Results: A total of 172 patients with DP fractures were seen in our clinic between 2007 and 2013. Of these, 141 patients were managed conservatively and 31 patients had surgery for 33 DP fractures, of which 12 had K-wire and 21 had screw fixation. Mean union incidence for screw was 100% compared with 83% for K-wire. Time to union was 2.4 months for screw fixation compared with 4.1 months for K-wire fixation. ROM for screw fixation was significantly better (60°) compared with K-wire fixation (45°). ROM for non-transarticular K-wire (46°) was similar to transarticular K-wire (44°). ROI was performed in 52% of patients with screw fixation. Other than fingertip tenderness, which resolved after ROI, no other complications were noted.

Conclusions: Our study showed that the union incidence and time to union for screw fixation were comparable to those for K-wire fixation. Screw fixation of DP fractures resulted in greater distal interphalangeal joint motion compared with K-wire fixation but required removal in half of cases.

Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic III.

Keywords: Distal phalanx fractures; K-wire; functional outcome; screw fixation; union.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Screws*
  • Bone Wires*
  • Female
  • Finger Injuries / surgery*
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / instrumentation*
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome