What Is a Rolando Fracture?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2019
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A Rolando fracture is a type of bone fracture that occurs at the base of the thumb, which was first described by Silvio Rolando in the early 20th century. The bone at the base of the thumb will usually break into three or more pieces during this type of fracture, and it will usually be very painful. A person with this type of fracture will usually have very limited use of his thumb. Even after surgery, which is the recommended treatment for this type of thumb fracture, the patient may still have limited use of his thumb, depending on the severity of the break.

The joint where the thumb meets the hand is known as the trapeziometacarpal joint. This joint is responsible for the wide range of motion of the thumb. It allows the thumb to move up and down, and side to side. It also allows a person to pinch or grasp something.

Thumb fractures can be very debilitating. A Bennet fracture is another type of fracture that occurs at the base of the thumb, but this is often less severe than a Rolando fracture. With a Rolando fracture, the bone at the base of the thumb is usually broken into at least three pieces. Many times, the fracture will be Y-shaped or T-shaped.


A Rolando fracture can occur when the thumb or hand hits a very hard surface. This can occur when a person punches something hard, like a wall, for instance. It can also occur during a fall.

Severe pain is typically the most common symptom of a Rolando fracture. The hand will usually be very tender, especially at the base of the thumb. A person with these types of thumb fractures will usually be unable to move his thumb well. Swelling and bruising may also occur.

Medical experts advise that patients with these symptoms seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Delayed treatment could result in limited usage of the hand. A Rolando fracture is typically diagnosed with the use of x-rays.

Treatment of a Rolando fracture usually requires surgery. Metal screws and pins may be needed to reconstruct the thumb joint in many cases. Wires, known as Kirschner wires, may also be used to compress the bone fragments together until they are healed.

Patients with a severe Rolando fracture may have pain or limited use of their thumbs even after the fractures heal. Typically, the more pieces the bone breaks into, the worse the prognosis. If the bones are not aligned properly during treatment, this could also result in limited thumb function.


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