Why do some doctors want to put pins in a wrist injury & others want to cast it?  Which way heals faster and/or better?

Expert Answers
crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Surgical pins are placed instead broken bones only when those bones have not only broken, but have also shifted.  If the bones have broken, but remained in place after the break it isn't necessary to fix them in place with a pin.  During the procedure to reset the bones the doctor puts them back in place, and inserts a pin to keep it there.

Once the broken wrist is in a cast, the effectiveness of pins vs. no pins is the same, and whether there are problems later depend on the same set of conditions.

Several other factors also determine whether a pin is necessary or not:

Age and activity - it is more important for a 10 year old kid to have the bones in his wrist set properly than it is for a 70 year old woman.

Location - bones can remodel over time, cartilage cannot.  If the fracture is in or near the cartridge surgery is often necessary.

Bone quality - in a person with, for example, osteoporosis where the bones are thin and weak surgery is unlikely to help.  The bones must be strong to properly hold the pins.

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