Reducible open dorsal dislocation of the single finger's PIP joint is an infrequent case of orthopedic emergencies. The severity of this injury may be underestimated. These injuries are associated with long-term complications such as synovitis, stiffness, degenerative arthrosis, septic arthritis, and loss of the digit if suboptimally treated.
A 90-year-old male came to the emergency department with an open dorsal PIP dislocation due to a fall on his right hand. There was a transverse skin laceration just proximal to the PIP flexion crease of his small and ring fingers. The condyles of his small finger's proximal phalanx protruded through the wound. X-rays showed a dorsal dislocation of the PIP joint without fracture. There was no neurovascular injury determined. The proximal phalanx was hyperextended slightly with gentle axial traction. After irrigation, the skin wound was closed primarily without repair of damaged structures, and systemic antibiotherapy was performed for a week. The PIP joint was immobilized for three weeks by applying the splint dorsally with the joint in 20 degrees of flexion. Active range of motion exercises were then implemented, and the patient regained full digital flexion with only a 10 degree loss of extension within eight weeks.
Forced hyperextension with axial compression causes a dorsal dislocation of the PIP joint. Dorsal PIP dislocations are more common than volar IP dislocation. Open dorsal dislocation of the PIP joint is an infrequent case of orthopedic emergencies. Such injuries can be treated safely in the emergency department by closed reduction and extensor splinting until a definite treatment plan is made by an orthopedic hand surgeon. The complications must be taken into consideration. Early active motion leads to significantly superior results in the range of motion than static splinting, because prolonged immobilization may result in flexion contracture.