Open Access Study protocol

Study protocol: non-displaced distal radial fractures in adult patients: three weeks vs. five weeks of cast immobilization: a randomized trial

Abdelali Bentohami1*, Niels de Korte1, Nico Sosef1, Johan Carel Goslings2, Taco Bijlsma1 and Niels Schep2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Spaarne Hospital, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands

2 Trauma Unit Department of Surgery, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:24  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-24

Published: 20 January 2014



Up to 30% of patients suffer from long-term functional restrictions following conservative treatment of distal radius fractures. Whether duration of cast immobilisation influences functional outcome remains unclear.


The aim of the study is to evaluate whether the duration of immobilization of non or minimally displaced distal radial fractures can be safely reduced. We will compare three weeks of plaster cast immobilization with five weeks of plaster cast immobilization in adult patient with non or minimally displaced distal radial fractures.

Study design: a prospective randomized clinical trial.

Study population: adult (>18 years) (independent in activities of daily living) patients with a non/minimal displaced distal radius fracture (dorsal angulation <15°, volar tilt <20°, radial inclination >15°, ulnar positive variance <5 mm and an articular step off <2 mm).

Intervention: three weeks of plaster cast immobilization versus five weeks of plaster cast immobilization.

Main study parameters: primary outcome parameters: Patient related wrist evaluation (PRWE) Quick Disability of Arm, Shoulder and Hand (QUICKDASH) score after a one year follow-up, and secondary parameters: range of motion, pain level (VAS) and complications.


The expectation of this study is that shorter duration of plaster cast immobilisation is beneficial for the patient with a distal radius fracture. This risk of specific complications is low and generally similar in both treatment options. Moreover, the burden of the study is not much higher compared to standard treatment. Follow-up is standardized according to current trauma guidelines. Literature indicates that both treatment options from the study are accepted for displaced distal radius fractures. No clear advantage for one treatment options is found at present in the literature, although there is no level I evidence present. This trial will provide level-1 evidence for the comparison of consolidation and functional outcome between two treatment options for non-displaced distal radial fractures. The gathered data may support the development of a clinical guideline for conservative treatment of distal radial fractures.

Trial registration

Netherlands National Trial Register NTR3552.