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Treatment of Unstable Distal Radial Fractures with the Volar Locking Plating System

Surgical Technique

Chung, Kevin C., MD, MS1; Petruska, Elizabeth A., BS1

doi: 10.2106/JBJS.G.00283
Surgical Techniques
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BACKGROUND: The best treatment for an inadequately reduced fracture of the distal part of the radius is not well established. We collected prospective outcomes data for patients undergoing open reduction and internal fixation of an inadequately reduced distal radial fracture with use of the volar locking plating system.

METHODS: Over a two-year period, 161 patients underwent open reduction and internal fixation of an inadequately reduced distal radial fracture with use of the volar locking plating system. Patients were enrolled in the present study three months after the fracture on the basis of strict entry criteria and were evaluated three, six, and twelve months after surgery. Outcome measures included radiographic parameters, grip strength, lateral pinch strength, the Jebsen-Taylor test, wrist range of motion, and the Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire.

RESULTS: Eighty-seven patients with a distal radial fracture were enrolled. The mean age at the time of enrollment was 48.9 years. Forty percent (thirty-five) of the eighty-seven fractures were classified as AO type A, 9% (eight) were classified as type B, and 51% (forty-four) were classified as type C. Radiographic assessment showed that the plating system maintained anatomic reduction at the follow-up periods. At the time of the twelve-month follow-up, the mean grip strength on the injured side was worse than that on the contralateral side (18 compared with 21 kg; p < 0.01), the mean pinch strength on the injured side was not significantly different from that on the contralateral side (8.7 compared with 8.9 kg; p = 0.27), and the mean flexion of the wrist on the injured side was 86% of that on the contralateral side. All Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire domains approached normal scores at six months, with small continued improvement to one year.

CONCLUSIONS: The volar locking plating system appears to provide effective fixation when used for the treatment of initially inadequately reduced distal radial fractures.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

ORIGINAL ABSTRACT CITATION: “Treatment of Unstable Distal Radial Fractures with the Volar Locking Plating System” (2006;88:).

1 Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Health System, 2130 Taubman Center, 1500 E. Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0340. E-mail address for K.C. Chung: kecchung@med.umich.edu

Copyright © 2007 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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