Updated: 5/5/2020

5th Metatarsal Base Fracture

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Introduction
  • Overview
    • common fracture among athletic populations that is notorious for nonunion due to tenuous blood supply
      • treatment is either immobilization or surgery depending on location of fracture, degree of displacement, and athletic level of patient
  • Epidemiology
    • incidence
      • frequent injury encountered in primary care setting
      • base of 5th metatarsal fractures account for 25% of all metatarsal fractures
        • of which, 90% are zone 1 fractures
    • demographics
      • athletes, military recruits, and manual laborers
  • Pathophysiology
    • mechanism of injury
      • plantarflexion and hindfoot inversion leads to zone 1 fractures
      • forefoot adduction leads to zone 2 fractures
      • repetitive microtrauma leads to zone 3 fractures
  • Associated conditions
    • concomitant midfoot injuries (i.e. Lisfranc injury)
    • lateral ankle ligamentous laxity
    • cavus foot and varus hindfoot deformities
Anatomy
  • Osteology
    • divided into tubercle (tuberosity), base, shaft, head and neck 
      • tuberosity is primarily cancellous and highly vascularized
        • site of peroneus brevis and lateral band of plantar fascia insertion 
        • open apophysis or os peroneum may be confused for fracture (comparison radiographs warranted)
      • metadiaphyseal region has no tendinous attachments and is vascular watershed
      • diaphysis has dorsal curve in distal one third
        • peroneus tertius inserts on dorsal metadiaphysis 
  • Blood supply
    • blood supply provided by metaphyseal vessels and diaphyseal nutrient artery 
    • zone 2 (Jones fracture) represents a vascular watershed area, making these fractures prone to nonunion
  • Biomechanics
    • fifth metatarsal forms lateral border of forefoot
    • functions as a lever in gait during push-off
Classification
 
Classification
Class
Description
Images

Zone 1
(pseudo Jones fx)

  • Proximal tubercle avulsion
  • Due to long plantar ligament, lateral band of the plantar fascia, or contraction of the peroneus brevis
  • May extend into cubometatarsal joint 
  • Nonunion uncommon

Zone 2
(Jones fx)

  • Metaphyseal-diaphyseal junction 
  • Involves the 4th-5th metatarsal articulation
  • Vascular watershed area 
  • Acute injury
  • Increased risk of nonunion (15-30%)
Zone 3
  • Proximal diaphyseal fracture
  • Distal to the 4th-5th metatarsal articulation
  • Stress fracture in athletes
  • Associated with cavovarus foot deformities or sensory neuropathies 
  • Increased risk of nonunion
 
Presentation
  • History
    • antecedent pain in setting of stress fracture, rapid increase in workload or change in training regimen
  • Symptoms
    • location
      • pain over lateral border of forefoot, especially with weight bearing
    • aggravating/alieving factors
      • worse on weightbearing
  • Physical Exam
    • inspection
      • rare skin tenting from zone 1 fractures
      • tenderness to palpation along bone at fracture site
      • varus hindfoot alignment during weightbearing
      • cavus foot deformity
      • excessive lateral wear pattern on shoe treads
      • fifth metatarsal head callosity
    • motion
      • evaluate for lateral ligamentous instability and whether varus hindfoot is correctable
    • provocative tests
      • pain with resisted foot eversion (indicates peroneal tendon weakness)
Imaging
  • Radiographs
    • recommended views
      • AP, lateral and oblique foot images
    • findings
      • details fracture pattern and location 
      • intramedullary sclerosis and lack of periosteal callus reaction indicative of chronicity
      • plantar fracture gap lends poor prognosis for union with conservative treatment
      • plantarflexed first metatarsal and high Meary's angle indicating cavovarus deformity
  • Bone scan
    • indications
      • suspicion for stress fracture with equivocal radiographs
    • findings
      • uptake within diaphysis
  • CT
    • indications
      • to evaluate degree of fracture healing in setting of delayed/nonunion or following surgical fixation 
  • MRI
    • indications
      • suspicion for stress fracture with equivocal radiographs or bone scan
    • findings
      • high signal stress reaction and edema
Treatment
  • Nonoperative
    • protected weight bearing in stiff soled shoe, boot or cast   
      • indications
        • zone 1 fracture without rotational displacement
      • outcomes
        • union achieved by 8 weeks, fibrous unions are infrequently symptomatic
        • early return to work but symptoms may persist for up to 6 months
    • non-weight bearing short leg cast for 6-8 weeks 
      • indications
        • zone 2 fracture in recreational athlete 
        • zone 3 fracture
      • outcomes
        • high non-union rate and risk of re-fracture approaching 33% in zone 2 fractures
  • Operative
    • intramedullary screw fixation             
      • indications 
        • zone 1 fractures with rotational displacement or skin tenting
        • zone 2 (Jones fracture) in elite or competitive athletes   
          • minimizes possibility of nonunion or prolonged restriction from activity
        • zone 3 fractures in athletic individuals, cavovarus alignment, or with sclerosis/nonunion
      • outcomes
        • bony union rates approaching 100% in most series
    • open reduction internal fixation with plate and screws
      • indications
        • same as intramedullary screw fixation
        • salvage for nonunion following intramedullary screw fixation
      • outcomes
        • early data show plate and screw construct has equivalent strength to intramedullary fixation
Techniques
  • Protected weight bearing in stiff soled shoe, boot, or cast
    • technique
      • advance weight bearing as tolerated by pain
      • union achieved by 8 weeks, fibrous unions are infrequently symptomatic
      • early return to work but symptoms may persist for up to 6 months
  • Non-weight bearing short leg cast for 6-8 weeks
    • technique
      • advance weight bearing with signs of radiographic callus (around 4-6 weeks)
      • zone 3 fractures often require 7 weeks of non-weight bearing immobilization
      • reports of extracorpeal shock wave with similar union rates as internal fixation for zone 3 stress fractures
  • Intramedullary screw fixation
    • approach
      • patient supine with bump under hip and fluoroscopy immediately available
      • percutaneous/ limited open approach
      • short longitudinal incision proximal to tuberosity, parallel with plantar surface
    • soft tissue
      • blunt dissection past sural nerve branches to tuberosity
      • using fluoroscopy, K-wire starting position superior and medial on tuberosity ("high and inside" position)
    • bone work
      • k-wire placed intramedullary, fluoroscopy to confirm location
      • soft tissue protector placed and wire may be removed or cannulated drill used to open canal and drill pilot hole
      • sequentially tap to be able to place screw larger than 4mm diameter
    • instrumentation
      • tap can be used to measure appropriate length screw
      • a 4.5mm, 5.5mm, or 6.5mm diameter partially-threaded screw placed
      • fluoroscopy must be used to confirm all threads cross fracture site and no distal cortical perforation
      • if fracture gap persists or in cases of nonunion/revision, bone graft material may be added at fracture site
    • rehabilitation
      • short period of non-weight bearing (1-3 weeks) followed by protected weightbearing and beginning therapy focusing on range of motion and non-impact aerobic exercises
      • running and impact activities commenced at 6 weeks if surgical site pain-free and signs of radiographic callus
  • Open reduction with plate and screw internal fixation
    • approach
      • longitudinal incision centered over proximal 5th metatarsal
    • bone work
      • typical plantar fracture gap and/or rotational displacement able to be reduced
    • instrumentation
      • 3mm plate bent to contour to plantar-lateral surface of bone to compress fracture
Complications
  • Nonunion
    • incidence
      • nonunion rates for Zone 2 injuries are as high as 15-30% 
    • risk factors
      • zone 2 and zone 3 fractures due to vascular supply 
      • smaller diameter screws (<4.5mm) associated with delayed or nonunion 
    • treatment
      • revision intramedullary screw fixation with use of bone grafting
  • Failure of fixation
    • risk factors 
      • elite athletes
      • return to sports prior to radiographic union   
      • fracture distraction or malreduction due to screw length 
        • screws that are too long will straighten the curved metatarsal shaft or perforate the medial cortex
    • treatment
      • revision internal fixation
  • Refracture
    • incidence
      • 33% of zone 2 fractures following conservative treatment
    • risk factors
      • unaddressed cavovarus foot deformity, stress fractures
    • treatment
      • internal fixation with surgical correction of cavovarus deformity if present
  • Chronic pain
    • uncommon, result of zone 1 fracture nonunion after initial conservative treatment
    • treatment
      • fragment excision and reattachment of peroneus brevis tendon
 

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(SBQ12FA.46) A 23-year-old professional skier presents to the orthopedic clinic with foot pain after a mechanical fall at home. He is diagnosed with a Zone II base of 5th metatarsal fracture and is recommended for internal fixation. Which of the following is the primary advantage of operative intervention for these fractures compared to non-operative treatment? Tested Concept

QID: 3853
1

Improved union rate

94%

(2574/2741)

2

Decreased pain

2%

(58/2741)

3

Decreased heterotopic ossification

1%

(21/2741)

4

Improved range of motion

1%

(27/2741)

5

Reduced long-term cost

2%

(53/2741)

L 1 B

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(OBQ12.168) An 19-year-old elite dancer falls and sustains the injury seen in Figure A. Which of the following interventions is most appropriate at this time? Tested Concept

QID: 4528
FIGURES:
1

Weight-bearing as tolerated and immediate return to competitive dancing

1%

(50/3959)

2

Resection of the proximal fifth metatarsal base with advancement of the peroneus brevis tendon

1%

(27/3959)

3

Non-weight-bearing in a short-leg cast

11%

(455/3959)

4

Intramedullary screw fixation with return to play after signs of radiographic healing

31%

(1211/3959)

5

Protected weight-bearing in a stiff soled shoe with gradual return to activity

55%

(2182/3959)

L 4 B

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(OBQ11.40) A 23-year-old professional lacrosse player injures her left foot while walking down a flight of stairs. She has pain and inability to bear weight on her injured foot. She has no plantar ecchymosis but does have tenderness over her lateral foot. A radiograph of her foot is found in Figure A. What is the best form of management? Tested Concept

QID: 3463
FIGURES:
1

Hard-soled shoe

2%

(70/3769)

2

Cast immobilization

6%

(227/3769)

3

Modified Brostrom procedure

0%

(10/3769)

4

Intramedullary screw fixation

91%

(3423/3769)

5

Operative repair of the Lisfranc fracture

1%

(23/3769)

L 1 A

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(SBQ07SM.41) A 19-year-old college soccer player has been experiencing pain along the lateral border of her foot since the beginning of the season 6 weeks ago. A current radiograph is seen in Figure A. Which of the following would be a risk factor for failure after operative fixation? Tested Concept

QID: 1426
FIGURES:
1

Female gender

3%

(50/1875)

2

Age less than 20-years-old

0%

(6/1875)

3

Return to sport prior to radiographic union

91%

(1704/1875)

4

Use of a solid screw as opposed to a cannulated screw

1%

(23/1875)

5

Use of a 4.5mm screw

4%

(83/1875)

L 1 B

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(OBQ06.155) a 19-year old collegiate football lineman sustains a twisting injury to his right foot 1 week ago and radiographs are shown in Figure A. He was initially treated with a short leg splint, non-weight bearing and elevation. What treatment offers the fastest time to bony union and return to sport? Tested Concept

QID: 341
FIGURES:
1

short leg cast and non weight bearing

2%

(18/1034)

2

long leg cast and non weight bearing

1%

(6/1034)

3

intramedullary screw fixation

86%

(893/1034)

4

k-wire fixation

3%

(30/1034)

5

plate and screw fixation

7%

(76/1034)

L 2 C

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(OBQ06.173) A 20-year-old male collegiate basketball player presents with a 1 day history of left foot pain. He developed severe pain on the lateral border of his left foot after landing from a jump. The pain is worsened with weightbearing and walking. The patient reports that 12 weeks ago he sustained a similar injury and underwent surgery on his foot by a different surgeon. He reports that his physician released him to full activity 8 weeks ago because he had no pain. He is currently tender to palpation on the lateral border of the foot. Radiographs and CT scan are shown in Figures A-D. What is the most likely etiology for the new injury? Tested Concept

QID: 359
FIGURES:
1

Use of a partially threaded screw

3%

(81/2708)

2

Use of cannulated screw

7%

(197/2708)

3

Absence of adjunctive ultrasound stimulator use

1%

(29/2708)

4

Return to play prior to radiographic union

83%

(2259/2708)

5

Use of a 5.0mm diameter screw

5%

(132/2708)

L 2 D

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(OBQ05.211) A 25-year-old professional basketball player sustains a twisting injury to his foot. He complains of immediate pain and is unable to finish the game. Two days following the injury, he has continued tenderness with palpation of the base of the 5th metatarsal. A radiograph is provided in Figure A. Which of the following would most likely lead to the quickest return to play? Tested Concept

QID: 1097
FIGURES:
1

Protected weightbearing in a short leg cast with gradual return to sport

5%

(51/977)

2

Intramedullary screw fixation

87%

(854/977)

3

MRI evaluation

1%

(12/977)

4

Foot and ankle taping with immediate return to sport

1%

(5/977)

5

Open reduction internal fixation with a precontoured plate

5%

(47/977)

L 1 B

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