CC BY-NC 4.0 · Arch Plast Surg 2016; 43(02): 134-144
DOI: 10.5999/aps.2016.43.2.134
Review Article

Review of Acute Traumatic Closed Mallet Finger Injuries in Adults

Santiago Salazar Botero
Department of Hand Surgery, SOS main, CCOM, University Hospital of Strasbourg, FMTS, University of Strasbourg, Illkirch, France
Juan Jose Hidalgo Diaz
Department of Hand Surgery, SOS main, CCOM, University Hospital of Strasbourg, FMTS, University of Strasbourg, Illkirch, France
Anissa Benaïda
Department of Orthopaedics, CHU Blida, Saad Dahleb University, Blida, Algeria
Sylvie Collon
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Caen University Hospital, Caen, France
Sybille Facca
Department of Hand Surgery, SOS main, CCOM, University Hospital of Strasbourg, FMTS, University of Strasbourg, Illkirch, France
Philippe André Liverneaux
Department of Hand Surgery, SOS main, CCOM, University Hospital of Strasbourg, FMTS, University of Strasbourg, Illkirch, France
› Author Affiliations

In adults, mallet finger is a traumatic zone I lesion of the extensor tendon with either tendon rupture or bony avulsion at the base of the distal phalanx. High-energy mechanisms of injury generally occur in young men, whereas lower energy mechanisms are observed in elderly women. The mechanism of injury is an axial load applied to a straight digit tip, which is then followed by passive extreme distal interphalangeal joint (DIPJ) hyperextension or hyperflexion. Mallet finger is diagnosed clinically, but an X-ray should always be performed. Tubiana's classification takes into account the size of the bony articular fragment and DIPJ subluxation. We propose to stage subluxated fractures as stage III if the subluxation is reducible with a splint and as stage IV if not. Left untreated, mallet finger becomes chronic and leads to a swan-neck deformity and DIPJ osteoarthritis. The goal of treatment is to restore active DIPJ extension. The results of a six- to eight-week conservative course of treatment with a DIPJ splint in slight hyperextension for tendon lesions or straight for bony avulsions depends on patient compliance. Surgical treatments vary in terms of the approach, the reduction technique, and the means of fixation. The risks involved are stiffness, septic arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Given the lack of consensus regarding indications for treatment, we propose to treat all cases of mallet finger with a dorsal glued splint except for stage IV mallet finger, which we treat with extra-articular pinning.

Publication History

Received: 09 January 2016

Accepted: 24 February 2016

Article published online:
20 April 2022

© 2016. The Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, permitting unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes. (

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