JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY

Treatment of extra-articular distal radial malunions with an intramedullary implant

John T Capo, Jenifer Hashem, Nathanial S Orillaza, Virak Tan, Mark Warburton, Larissa Bonilla
Journal of Hand Surgery 2010, 35 (6): 892-9
20478663

PURPOSE: Malunited distal radius fractures pose considerable problems, especially for young, active individuals. Surgical correction with osteotomy, bone grafting, and internal fixation with plates and screws has been the treatment of choice. Locked intramedullary fixation is an alternative technique to provide bony stability while minimizing soft tissue irritation in the management of acute distal radius fractures, with acceptable clinical results. The purpose of this study was to describe our experience with the use of an intramedullary device combined with grafting to repair distal radial malunions. This fixation device is inserted through the radial styloid and obtains distal fixation with 3 fixed-angle locking screws.

METHODS: Thirteen patients underwent distal radius malunion repair with an intramedullary implant and grafting. There were 6 male and 7 female participants with an average age of 51 years (range, 18-72 y). Patients were evaluated at an average follow-up of 24 months (range, 13-38 mo). Clinical outcome was measured by range of motion of the wrist and forearm, and grip strength, and by using the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire. We analyzed radiographs to determine time to union and adequacy of correction.

RESULTS: All of the malunions healed, with an average time to healing of 11 weeks. Patients' average range of motion at follow-up was 56 degrees of flexion, 66 degrees extension, 85 degrees pronation, and 84 degrees supination. Mean grip strength was 83% of the unaffected side, and the average Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score was 21. Radiographs taken on the latest follow-up showed correction to the following average parameters: 20.6 degrees radial inclination, 11.0 mm radial height, +1.0 mm ulnar variance, and 2.1 degrees volar tilt.

CONCLUSIONS: The technique presented in this report demonstrates the effectiveness of an intramedullary nail combined with bone graft or graft substitute in repairing malunited fractures of the distal radius. The results show reliable correction of the deformity and good functional outcomes.

TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic IV.

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