Condition category
Musculoskeletal Diseases
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Prospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
All adult patients with a broken wrist (fracture of the distal radius) are given a temporary wrist support and referred to the local fracture service for treatment. Most broken wrists can be treated without the need for surgery. However, for the more serious wrist injuries, the treating surgeon may recommend an operation to restore the normal position of the wrist bones. This study is comparing two different ways of holding the broken bones in the best position while they heal. They are both used routinely throughout the NHS, but the most effective technique is unknown. The first technique involves the application of a plaster cast which is shaped (moulded) over the skin to hold the bone fragments in position. The second technique involves the surgical fixation of the bone fragments using metal wires (K-wires). The aim of this study is to find out whether surgical fixation of the broken bones of the wrist is more effective than plaster cast treatment.

Who can participate?
Patients aged 16 years and over who are having surgery to treat a broken wrist.

What does the study involve?
Participants are randomly allocated to one of two groups. Those in the first group have a plaster cast shaped (moulded) over the skin to hold the bone fragments in position. The cast remains in place for around 4-6 weeks. Those in the second group undergo surgical fixation of the bone fragments using metal wires (K-wires). During this surgery smooth wires with a sharp point are passed across the fracture site through the skin to hold the bone fragments in position while they heal. A plaster cast is applied over the top of the wires to hold the wrist joint still, but the cast does not have to be moulded into position as the wires themselves hold the bone in place. The surgical and research team assess all patients, look at an x-ray and make a record of any early complications at 6 weeks, according to standard clinical procedure. Patients are also asked to report their own recovery using a questionnaire at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months after the treatment. The questionnaire also asks about the patient s wrist function, their general quality of life and any costs they have incurred related to their injury.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
There are no direct benefits or risks involved for participants taking part in this study.

Where is the study run from?
University of Oxford

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
July 2016 to October 2019

Who is funding the study?
National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment Programme (UK)

Who is the main contact?
Dr Robin Lerner

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Robin Lerner


Contact details

Nuffield Department Of Orthopaedics
Rheumatology and Muscoloskeletal Sciences
University of Oxford
United Kingdom
+44 1865 227912



Additional contact

Ms Bojana Selinsek


Contact details

Nuffield Department Of Orthopaedics
Rheumatology and Muscoloskeletal Sciences
University of Oxford
United Kingdom
+44 1865 227912

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

Distal Radius Acute Fracture Fixation Trial 2



Study hypothesis

Null hypothesis:
There is no difference in the Patient Rated Wrist Evaluation score (PRWE) one year post-injury between adult patients with a dorsally displaced fracture of the distal radius treated with plaster cast fixation versus K-wire fixation.

More details can be found at:

Ethics approval

South Central - Oxford B Research Ethics Committee, 06/10/2016, ref: 16/SC/0462

Study design

Multi-centre randomised parallel trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised parallel trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Dorsally displaced fracture of the distal radius


Participants are randomised to one of two groups, stratified by centre, intra-articular extension of the fracture and age of the patient (above or below 50 years).

K-wire Fixation group:
The wires are passed through the skin over the dorsal aspect of the distal radius and into the bone in order to hold the fracture in the correct (anatomical) position. The size and number of wires, the insertion technique and the configuration of wires will be left entirely to the discretion of the surgeon. A plaster cast will be applied at the end of the procedure to supplement the wire fixation as per standard surgical practice. This cast holds the wrist still and is left on until the wires are removed at the follow-up appointment.

Plaster Cast group:
This technique involves the application of a plaster cast which is shaped (moulded) over the skin to hold the bone fragments in position. The plaster cast will remain in situ for 4-6 weeks.

The study follow-up will range from events and at activities at the routine 6 week follow-up appointment. During this appointment radiographs and a short questionnaire on complications. This complications questionnaire will be completed by the Research Associate. The study follow-up will also require patients to complete questionnaires for Patient Rated Wrist Evaluation, EuroQolEQ-5D, complications and resource use at 3, 6 and 12 months post-operatively.

Intervention type



Drug names

Primary outcome measure

Wrist function is measured using the Patient Rated Wrist Evaluation (PWRE) at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months post-operatively.

Secondary outcome measures

1. Quality of life is measured using the EQ-5D at Baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months post-operatively.
2. Complications are measured using a questionnaire filled in by either a research associate at 6 weeks. In addition, complications will also be measured using a questionnaire completed by the patient at 3, 6 and 12 months post-operatively.
3.Radiographic evaluation will be used to assess the quality of reduction at baseline, 6 weeks and 12 months after the injury
4. Resource use will be monitored for the economic analysis. Unit cost data will be obtained from national databases such as the BNF and PSSRU Costs of Health and Social Care. Where these are not available the unit cost will be estimated in consultation with the UHCW finance department. The cost consequences following discharge, including NHS costs and patients' out-of-pocket expenses will be recorded via a short questionnaire which will be administered at 3, 6 and 12 months post surgery. Patient self-reported information on service use has been shown to be accurate in terms of the intensity of use of different services.

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Sustained a dorsally displaced fracture of the distal radius, which is defined as a fracture within 3 cm of the radio-carpal joint.
2. Aged of 16 and able to give informed consent.
3. The treating Consultant Surgeon believes that they would benefit from manipulation of the fracture.

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants

minimum of 476

Participant exclusion criteria

1. Injury is more than two weeks old
2. Fracture extends more than 3 cm from radio carpal joint
3. Fracture is open with a Gustillo grading greater than
4. Articular surface of the fracture (specifically the radio-carpal joint) cannot be reduced by indirect techniques. In a small number of fractures, the joint surface is so badly disrupted that the surgeon will have to open up the fracture in order to restore the anatomy.
5. Evidence that the patient would be unable to adhere to trial procedures or complete questionnaires, such as cognitive impairment

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

John Radcliffe Hospital
Oxford Centre Headley Way Headington
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Oxford (UK)

Sponsor details

Block 60
Churchill Hospital
Old Road
United Kingdom

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

Health Technology Assessment Programme

Alternative name(s)

NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme, HTA

Funding Body Type

government organisation

Funding Body Subtype

Federal/National Government


United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Planned dissemination of disseminate the findings of this study to the wider public audience by the end of the trial.

Intention to publish date


Participant level data

Available on request

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

30/05/2018: The following changes have been made: 1. The study design has been changed from "Multi-centre double-blind randomised parallel trial" to "Multi-centre randomised parallel trial". 2. The recruitment end date has been changed from 31/05/2018 to 30/11/2018. 04/09/2017: The study contact phone numbers have been changed from +44 1865 227226 & +44 1865 227903 to +44 1865 227912. 01/09/2017: Ethics approval has been added. Dr Katy Mironov and Dr Shakil Patel have been removed as the study contact. Dr Robin Lerner and Bojana Selinsek have been added as study contacts.