Open reduction and internal locked fixation of unstable distal ulna fractures with concomitant distal radius fracture

David G Dennison
Journal of Hand Surgery 2007, 32 (6): 801-5

PURPOSE: To evaluate the results following locking plate fixation of unstable distal ulna fractures with concomitant distal radius fracture.

METHODS: A retrospective review was conducted to identify patients who had been treated with a locking plate for unstable displaced fractures of the distal ulna in which a concomitant ipsilateral distal radius fracture was also treated operatively. Medical records and radiographs were reviewed, and 5 patients were identified with an average age of 52 years (range, 47-61 years) and with follow-up averaging 11.6 months (range, 6-17 months). There were 2 open and 3 closed fractures. Included was 1 simple neck, 1 comminuted neck, 1 head, and 2 head and neck fractures of the distal ulna. All distal radius fracture implants were locked volar plates.

RESULTS: All distal ulna and distal radius fractures united, and the average motion was: flexion 59 degrees ; extension 59 degrees ; pronation 67 degrees ; and supination 72 degrees . Average grip strength was 97% of the opposite extremity. Final ulnar variance averaged -0.4 mm (ulnar negative), radial inclination was 20 degrees , and volar tilt was 8 degrees . All distal radioulnar joints were stable. Two patients had mild, transient paresthesias of the dorsal sensory branch of the ulnar nerve, and both patients recovered completely within 3 months. There were no subsequent surgeries or hardware failures. There were no infections and no wound problems. Based upon the Sarmiento modification of the Gartland and Werley rating score, there were 4 excellent results and 1 good result.

CONCLUSIONS: Locked plating of unstable distal ulna fractures, in the setting of an associated distal radius fracture, resulted in union, good to excellent alignment and motion, nearly symmetric grip strength, and minimal transient morbidity.

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