Executive Editor: Joseph Schatzker, Richard Buckley

Authors: Michael Castro, Richard Buckley, Andrew Sands, Christina Kabbash

Metatarsals - 1st, head, intraarticular comminuted

back to Foot overview


1 General considerations top


Anatomical considerations

Proper alignment of the metatarsal heads is a critical goal in restoring the pathomechanics of the forefoot. On the AP view, a normal curved “cascade” (Lelièvre’s parabola) appearance, symmetric with the other foot, is mandatory. See illustration. This ensures that the normal length of the metatarsal is restored.

It is also critical to restore the metatarsals in their axial or horizontal plane so that in the axial or tread view all the metatarsal heads are on the same level.

Any malalignment particularly flexion will recreate focally high pressure during the stance phase and toe-off and will result in pain and subsequent callus formation.

Note that for the first ray, it is the sesamoids rather than the first metatarsal head, that bear weight, and therefore one must look at the sesamoid level in establishing the alignment in the axial or horizontal plane of the first metatarsal.


Preliminary remarks

It is essential to have a healthy soft-tissue envelope prior to open intervention.

Look for damage to the plantar plate by assessing sesamoid position on an AP radiograph. Check whether they are spread apart or not. If the volar plate was avulsed, it may interpose itself into the metatarsophalangeal joint and block reduction.

2 Patient preparation top


This procedure is normally performed with the patient in a supine position.

3 K-wire fixation top


If the soft-tissue envelope is unsatisfactory for ORIF provisional stabilization of the first MTP joint may be performed with 2.0 mm K-wires.

However, maintaining the percutaneous pinning for six weeks, followed by a trial of nonoperative intervention is acceptable.

4 Open reduction internal fixation top


For open reduction and fixation a dorsal approach to the first metatarsal may be used.


If soft tissues are satisfactory then immediate reduction may be performed. Usually mini fragment fixation (2.0 mm) can reduce and fixate these fractures.

5 Fusion of MTP joint top

If fusion is necessary because the bone stock is unsatisfactory, then this can be performed once the soft tissue swelling has resolved. Fusion of the first MTP joint is rarely recommended.

Because this is an intraarticular fracture some joint incongruity is inevitable and pain and stiffness may follow. This would require secondary reconstructive surgery.

v2.0 2017-03-22