Two casting methods compared in patients with Colles' fracture: A pragmatic, randomized controlled trial

PLoS One. 2020 May 29;15(5):e0232153. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0232153. eCollection 2020.


Background: Distal radius fractures are common fractures and the cornerstone of treatment remains immobilization of the wrist in a cast. At present, there is a scarcity of studies that compare different cast immobilization methods. The objective of the study was therefore to compare volar-flexion and ulnar deviation cast to functional cast position in the treatment of dorsally displaced distal radius fracture among elderly patients.

Methods and findings: We performed a pragmatic, randomized, controlled trial in three emergency centers in Finland. After closed reduction of the fracture, the wrist was placed in either volar-flexion and ulnar deviation cast or functional cast position. The follow-up was 12 months. The primary outcome was patient-rated wrist evaluation (PRWE) score at 12 months. The secondary outcomes were Quick-DASH score, grip strength, health-related quality of life (15D), and pain catastrophizing scale. The number of complications was also recorded. In total, 105 participants were included in the study. Of these, 88% were female and the mean age was 73.5 (range 65-94) years. In the primary analysis, the mean difference in patient-rated wrist evaluation measure between groups was -4.9 (95% CI: -13.1.- 3.4., p = .24) in favor of the functional cast position. Operative treatment due to loss of reduction of fracture was performed for four patients (8%) in the FC group and for seven patients (13%) in the volar-flexion and ulnar deviation cast group (OR: 0.63, 95% CI: 0.16-2.1).

Conclusion: In this study, the data were consistent with a wide range of treatment effects when comparing two different cast positions in the treatment of distal radius fracture among elderly patients at 12-month follow-up. However, the functional cast is more likely to be superior when compared to volar-flexion and ulnar deviation cast.

Trial registration: identifier: NCT02894983 Accessible:

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Casts, Surgical*
  • Colles' Fracture / surgery*
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation / adverse effects
  • Fracture Fixation / instrumentation
  • Fracture Fixation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Quality of Life

Associated data


Grant support

The Academy of Finland (grant number: MS773, VM) did grant the funding based on the research protocol for the overall maintenance of the trial. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.