In-house 3D-printed custom splints for non-operative treatment of distal radial fractures: a randomized controlled trial

JOURNAL OF HAND SURGERY-EUROPEAN VOLUME(2024)

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Abstract
We compared patient satisfaction and clinical effectiveness of 3D-printed splints made of photopolymer resin to conventional fibre glass casts in treating distal radial fractures. A total of 39 patients with minimally displaced distal radius fractures were included and randomized. Of them, 20 were immobilized in a fibre glass cast and 19 in a 3D-printed forearm splint. The 3D-printed splints were custom-designed based on forearm surface scanning with a handheld device and printed in-house using digital light processing printing technology. Patient satisfaction and clinical effectiveness were assessed with questionnaires 1 and 6 weeks after the initiation of immobilization. Fracture healing, pain, range of motion, grip strength and the DASH and PRWE scores were assessed up to 1-year follow-up. 3D-printed splints proved to be equally well tolerated by the patients and equally clinically effective as conventional fibre glass casts although there was a higher rate of minor complications. 3D-printed splints present a safe alternative, especially in young, active patients, for non-operative treatment of distal radial fractures.
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Key words
Distal radial fracture,non-operative treatment,3D-printing,additive manufacturing
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