Comparison of intra-articular simple compression and extra-articular distal radial fractures

J Sebastiaan Souer, David Ring, Jesse Jupiter, Stefan Matschke, Laurent Audigé, Marta Marent-Huber
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume 2011 November 16, 93 (22): 2093-9

BACKGROUND: The impact of a single well-reduced or stable intra-articular fracture oriented in the sagittal plane on the outcome of internal fixation of a distal radial fracture is uncertain. We tested the hypothesis that wrist motion and function scores would not differ between patients with an extra-articular fracture and those with a single sagittal intra-articular fracture following open fracture reduction and internal fixation with use of a volar locking plate.

METHODS: Thirty-seven patients with a single sagittal intra-articular fracture of the distal aspect of the radius and seventy-four age and sex-matched patients with an extra-articular distal radial fracture were retrospectively analyzed with use of data gathered in a cohort study of plate and screw fixation of distal radial fractures. A volar locking plate was used in all patients. The two cohorts were analyzed for differences in motion, grip strength, pain, and Gartland and Werley, DASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand), and SF-36 (Short Form-36) scores six, twelve, and twenty-four months after surgery. Differences between the cohorts and differences within each cohort over time were determined with use of regression analysis and the likelihood ratio test.

RESULTS: Patients with a single sagittal intra-articular fracture and those an extra-articular fracture did not differ significantly with respect to motion, grip strength, Gartland and Werley score, or DASH score at any time point. However, there was a trend toward less pronation (95% compared with 98% of that in the contralateral arm) and less grip strength (76% compared with 81% of that in the contralateral arm) at six months and toward a smaller flexion-extension arc (118° compared with 128°) at one year after surgery in patients with a single sagittal intra-articular fracture.

CONCLUSIONS: Open reduction and volar locking plate and screw fixation of extra-articular fractures and of simple intra-articular fractures of the distal aspect of the radius are associated with comparable impairment and disability within two years of surgery.

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