Updated: 8/20/2021

5th Metatarsal Base Fracture

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  • SUMMARY
    • 5th Metatarsal Base Fractures are among the most common fractures of the foot and are predisposed to poor healing due to the limited blood supply to the specific areas of the 5th metatarsal base.
    • Diagnosis is made with plain radiographs of the foot.
    • Treatment can include protected weight bearing, 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
        • 90% are zone 1 fractures
    • Demographics
      • athletes, military recruits, and manual laborers
  • Etiology
    • 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 tuberosity, base, metadiaphysis, diaphysis, neck, and head
        • base and tuberosity
          • is primarily cancellous and highly vascularized
          • tuberosity flairs from base
            • 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 diaphysis
        • neck
          • distal metadiaphyseal region
          • more common site of fracture
        • head
          • articulates with proximal phalanx to form metatarsophalangeal joint
    • 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
    • Torg Anatomic Classification
      Class
      Description
      Zone 1
      • PseudoJones 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
    • Torg Radiographic Classification
      Class
      Characteristics
      Fracture Age
      Type I
      Narrow fracture line without intramedullary sclerosis
      Acute
      Type II
      Widened fracture line with intramedullary sclerosis
      Delayed Union
      Type III
      Widened intramedullary canal with no callus
      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
          • callus forms medially first and progresses laterally
        • plantar fracture gap lends poor prognosis for union with nonoperative 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 (Torg Types 2-3)
        • 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 6-7 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, between peroneus longus and brevis tendons
        • using fluoroscopy, K-wire starting position superior and medial on tuberosity ("high and inside" position)
          • k-wire does not need to be passed further than the metatarsal curvature
      • reduction
        • 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
        • 4.5mm, 5.5mm, or 6.5mm diameter partially-threaded screw placed
          • recommended to use the largest diameter screw that can be accommodated
        • 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
        • nutritional (vitamin-D) or hormonal (thyroid) deficiencies
      • 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
          • screw that is too short will not compress fracture
      • treatment
        • revision internal fixation
    • Refracture
      • incidence
        • 33% of zone 2 fractures following nonoperative treatment
      • risk factors
        • cavovarus foot deformity, stress fractures, vitamin-D insufficiency, removal of intramedullary screw
      • treatment
        • internal fixation with surgical correction of cavovarus deformity if present
        • leave screw in place until end of patient's athletic career
    • Painful hardware
      • incidence
        • rare complication following intramedullary screw fixation
      • risk factors
        • screw head left prominent can irritate sural nerve branches
      • treatment
        • modified shoewear
    • Sural nerve injury
      • risk factors
        • direct trauma during screw insertion
        • prominent screw head impinging on nerve branches
          • dorsolateral branch of sural nerve within 2-3 mm of tuberosity
      • treatment
        • prevented by using tissue protector during procedure and sinking screw head
    • 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?

QID: 3853
1

Improved union rate

94%

(2851/3031)

2

Decreased pain

2%

(59/3031)

3

Decreased heterotopic ossification

1%

(26/3031)

4

Improved range of motion

1%

(27/3031)

5

Reduced long-term cost

2%

(60/3031)

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?

QID: 4528
FIGURES:
1

Weight-bearing as tolerated and immediate return to competitive dancing

1%

(53/4197)

2

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

1%

(28/4197)

3

Non-weight-bearing in a short-leg cast

12%

(488/4197)

4

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

31%

(1296/4197)

5

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

55%

(2298/4197)

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?

QID: 3463
FIGURES:
1

Hard-soled shoe

2%

(76/3995)

2

Cast immobilization

6%

(238/3995)

3

Modified Brostrom procedure

0%

(12/3995)

4

Intramedullary screw fixation

91%

(3631/3995)

5

Operative repair of the Lisfranc fracture

1%

(23/3995)

L 1 B

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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?

QID: 1426
FIGURES:
1

Female gender

3%

(55/2070)

2

Age less than 20-years-old

0%

(7/2070)

3

Return to sport prior to radiographic union

91%

(1887/2070)

4

Use of a solid screw as opposed to a cannulated screw

1%

(23/2070)

5

Use of a 4.5mm screw

4%

(86/2070)

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?

QID: 341
FIGURES:
1

short leg cast and non weight bearing

2%

(21/1233)

2

long leg cast and non weight bearing

0%

(6/1233)

3

intramedullary screw fixation

87%

(1071/1233)

4

k-wire fixation

3%

(34/1233)

5

plate and screw fixation

7%

(90/1233)

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?

QID: 359
FIGURES:
1

Use of a partially threaded screw

3%

(85/2948)

2

Use of cannulated screw

7%

(208/2948)

3

Absence of adjunctive ultrasound stimulator use

1%

(31/2948)

4

Return to play prior to radiographic union

84%

(2475/2948)

5

Use of a 5.0mm diameter screw

5%

(138/2948)

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?

QID: 1097
FIGURES:
1

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

4%

(52/1165)

2

Intramedullary screw fixation

88%

(1029/1165)

3

MRI evaluation

1%

(13/1165)

4

Foot and ankle taping with immediate return to sport

0%

(5/1165)

5

Open reduction internal fixation with a precontoured plate

5%

(57/1165)

L 1 B

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