Classifications of Acute Scaphoid Fractures: A Systematic Literature Review

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In the lack of consensus, surgeon-based preference determines how acute scaphoid fractures are classified. There is a great variety of classification systems with considerable controversies.


The purpose of this study was to provide an overview of the different classification systems, clarifying their subgroups and analyzing their popularity by comparing citation indexes. The intention was to improve data comparison between studies using heterogeneous fracture descriptions.


We performed a systematic review of the literature based on a search of medical literature from 1950 to 2015, and a manual search using the reference lists in relevant book chapters. Only original descriptions of classifications of acute scaphoid fractures in adults were included. Popularity was based on citation index as reported in the databases of Web of Science (WoS) and Google Scholar. Articles that were cited <10 times in WoS were excluded.


Our literature search resulted in 308 potentially eligible descriptive reports of which 12 reports met the inclusion criteria. We distinguished 13 different (sub) classification systems based on (1) fracture location, (2) fracture plane orientation, and (3) fracture stability/displacement. Based on citations numbers, the Herbert classification was most popular, followed by the Russe and Mayo classifications. All classification systems were based on plain radiography.


Most classification systems were based on fracture location, displacement, or stability. Based on the controversy and limited reliability of current classification systems, suggested research areas for an updated classification include three-dimensional fracture pattern etiology and fracture fragment mobility assessed by dynamic imaging.

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