Approach to Isolated Trapezoid Fractures

Ochsner J. 2019 Fall;19(3):271-275. doi: 10.31486/toj.18.0157.


Background: The trapezoid is the least commonly fractured carpal bone, comprising 4% of all carpal fractures. To date, few articles have been published on isolated trapezoid fractures. Mechanisms of injury have typically been reported as an axial load, with or without forced wrist flexion/extension, that is transmitted from the second metacarpal indirectly to the trapezoid. Case Reports: Two patients presenting with symptoms of nonspecific wrist pain after acute trauma were initially worked up with plain film x-rays. Physical examinations identified nonspecific wrist pain in both patients. Mechanisms of injury involved direct trauma and an axial force transmitted through the scaphoid region of an extended wrist in each patient. Plain x-rays were negative for trapezoid fracture in both patients. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging revealed the diagnoses. Conservative management consisted of splinting and immobilization, with full recovery reported at 2.5- and 3-month follow-up. Conclusion: Isolated fractures of the trapezoid require a high index of suspicion as they are rare, and localizing signs and symptoms are typically vague and may mimic those of scaphoid fractures. When athletes present with dorsal wrist pain, swelling, and snuffbox tenderness in the setting of negative plain x-rays, the most likely mechanisms of injury are associated with athletic activity. Treatment depends on the degree of displacement and other associated injuries and ranges from activity modification or immobilization to open reduction with internal fixation.

Keywords: Carpal bones; fractures–bone; trapezoid bone; wrist joint.

Publication types

  • Case Reports