WARRIOR-trial - is routine radiography following the 2-week initial follow-up in trauma patients with wrist and ankle fractures necessary: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

N.L. Weil, M.F. Termaat, S.M. Rubinstein, M. El Moumni, W.P. Zuidema, R.J. Derksen, P. Krijnen, L. van Bodegom-Vos, K.W. Wendt, C. van Kuijk, F.R. Rosendaal, R.S. Breederveld, J.C. Goslings, I.B. Schipper, M.W. van Tulder

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BACKGROUND: Extremity fractures such as wrist and ankle fractures are a common and costly healthcare problem. The management of these fractures depends on fracture type and loss of congruity of the joint, resulting in cast immobilization or operative treatment. Loss of congruity or displacement leading to uneven joint loading, osteoarthritis and an increased probability of a poor functional outcome should be identified within the first 2 weeks post-trauma, based upon radiographs to determine optimal treatment. After this period, routine radiographs are scheduled for monitoring the bone-healing process. Current protocols describe imaging at 1, 2, 6 and 12 weeks post-trauma. However, it is questionable whether routine radiography following the initial follow-up ( 2-weeks post-trauma) is cost effective. The aim of this study is to determine whether a modification of the radiographic follow-up protocol can be conducted with no worse outcome and less cost than the current standard of care for patients with a wrist or ankle fracture.

METHODS/DESIGN: In a multicenter randomized controlled trial, 697 patients aged 18 years or older will be included: 385 wrist fracture- and 312 ankle fracture patients. Patients will be randomized into two groups: Group 1 receives usual care, consisting of radiographs 1, 2, 6 and 12 weeks post-trauma; Group 2 receives radiographs beyond the initial follow-up only when clinically indicated. The primary outcome is the overall extremity-specific function. For wrist fractures, this includes the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand Score; for the ankle fractures, this includes the Olerud and Molander ankle score. Secondary outcomes include: healthcare cost, the specific function measured with the Patient Rated Wrist and Hand Evaluation for wrist fractures and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons foot and ankle questionnaire for ankle fractures, pain-intensity, health-related quality of life, self-perceived recovery, and complications. Both groups will be monitored at 1, 2, and 6 weeks and 3, 6, and 12 months.

DISCUSSION: This study will provide data on (cost) effectiveness of routine radiography in the follow-up of wrist and ankle fractures, and could pave the way for a change in (inter)national protocols.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Netherlands Trial Register NTR4610 , registration date 22 June 2014.

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
Pages (from-to)66
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Ankle Fractures/diagnostic imaging
  • Arthrography/economics
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Fracture Healing
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Pain Measurement
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Quality of Life
  • Recovery of Function
  • Research Design
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wrist Injuries/diagnostic imaging

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