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Conservative versus Surgical Management of Fifth Metatarsal Diaphyseal Fractures: A Retrospective Review

Marc D. Jones Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA. Dr. Jones is now with Mann-Grandstaff VAMC, Spokane, WA. Dr. Omana-Daniels is now with Franciscan Foot and Ankle Associates at St. Joseph, Tacoma, WA. Dr. Sweet is now with VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, Seattle, WA.

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Rebecca V. Omana-Daniels Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA. Dr. Jones is now with Mann-Grandstaff VAMC, Spokane, WA. Dr. Omana-Daniels is now with Franciscan Foot and Ankle Associates at St. Joseph, Tacoma, WA. Dr. Sweet is now with VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, Seattle, WA.

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Kerry J. Sweet Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA. Dr. Jones is now with Mann-Grandstaff VAMC, Spokane, WA. Dr. Omana-Daniels is now with Franciscan Foot and Ankle Associates at St. Joseph, Tacoma, WA. Dr. Sweet is now with VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, Seattle, WA.

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Background: Historically, distal fifth metatarsal diaphyseal fractures have been treated with conservative management, with only limited research evaluating surgical treatment of these fractures. This study was performed to compare surgical versus conservative treatment of distal fifth metatarsal diaphyseal fractures in athletes and nonathletes.

Methods: A retrospective review of 53 patients with surgical or conservative treatment of isolated fifth metatarsal diaphyseal fractures was performed. Data recorded included age, sex, tobacco use, diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, time to clinical union, time to radiographic union, athletic versus nonathletic status, time to return to full activity, surgical fixation method, and complications.

Results: Patients treated surgically had a mean clinical union time of 8.2 weeks, radiographic union time of 13.5 weeks, and return to activity time of 12.9 weeks. Patients treated conservatively had a mean clinical union time of 16.3 weeks, radiographic union time of 25.2 weeks, and return to activity time of 20.7 weeks. Delayed unions and nonunions occurred in 27.0% of patients (10 of 37) treated conservatively and in none in the surgical group.

Conclusions: Surgical treatment significantly decreased time to radiographic union, clinical union, and return to activity by an average of 8 weeks compared with conservative treatment. We suggest that surgical treatment of distal fifth metatarsal fractures is a viable option that may significantly decrease the patient’s time to clinical union, radiographic union, and return to activity.

Corresponding author: Marc D. Jones, DPM, Mann-Grandstaff VAMC, 4815 N Assembly St, Spokane, WA 99205. (E-mail: marc.jones@va.gov)
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