Background: The vast majority of acute closed tendinous mallet injuries are treated with a splint. Very few studies have directly compared splinting versus pinning the distal interphalangeal joint for this injury. The aim of this cohort study is to determine the outcomes of both methods. Methods: A total of 59 patients with acute tendinous mallet injury were retrospectively enrolled (29 patients in conservative treatment and 30 patients in surgical treatment). Conservative treatment was performed using custom-made thermoplastic splint and surgical treatment was conducted with oblique K-wire fixation of the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint. The DIP joint was immobilized for eight weeks in both treatments. Active ranges of motion of the affected finger and Miller's classification were evaluated postoperatively. Results: The mean extension lag of the DIP joint in the surgical treatment group was significantly better than it was with conservative treatment (2.1° vs 13.8°). Three patients who were noncompliant with the splint showed poor results, while no patients in the surgical treatment group had a poor result. Conclusions: Surgical treatment with K-wire fixation leads to satisfactory results for acute tendinous mallet injury.
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