Better Way to Treat Seniors’ Ankle Fractures?

Ankle Injury - American Health Council

A new type of plaster cast might help older adults avoid surgery for unstable ankle fractures, researchers say.

“Older adults — those over 60 — are suffering an increasing number of ankle fractures from leading more active lifestyles and the rising prevalence of osteoporosis,” said study author Keith Willett.

“However, we know that older patients have disproportionately poor outcomes, and their quality of life can suffer as they lose mobility,” added Willett. He is a professor of orthopedics, rheumatology and musculoskeletal sciences at the University of Oxford in England.

Currently, two techniques are used to treat unstable ankle fractures: surgery to set and fix the bones using plates and screws; or a traditional plaster cast.

“Each technique has drawbacks,” Willett said in a university news release. “Traditional plaster casts are associated with misaligned bones, poor healing and plaster sores. Surgery, especially in older people, is often complicated by poor implant fixation, wound healing problems and infection.”

Willett and his colleagues assessed the use of a new plaster cast technique called “close contact casting.” This uses less padding than a traditional cast and sets the bones by being a close anatomical fit. The cast is applied by a surgeon while the patient is under anesthetic.

The study included 620 older adults in the United Kingdom with unstable ankle fractures. All would normally have had surgery. Instead, half had surgery and half received a close contact cast.

Read the full article: Better Way to Treat Seniors’ Ankle Fractures?