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Incidence and clinical outcomes of tendon rupture following distal radius fracture.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the incidence of tendon rupture after nonoperative and operative management of distal radius fractures, report clinical outcomes after tendon repair or transfer, and examine volar plate and dorsal screw prominence as a predictor of tendon rupture.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective chart review on patients treated for tendon rupture after distal radius fracture. We evaluated active range of motion, Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score, grip strength, and pain score, and performed radiographic evaluation of volar plate and dorsal screw prominence in both the study group and a matched control group.

RESULTS: There were 6 tendon ruptures in 1,359 patients (0.4%) treated nonoperatively and 8 tendon ruptures in 999 patients (0.8%) treated with volar plate fixation. At the time of final follow-up, regardless of treatment, we noted that patients had minimal pain and excellent motion and grip strength. Mean Disabilities of the Shoulder, Arm, and Hand scores were 6 for patients treated nonoperatively and 4 for those treated with volar plating.

CONCLUSIONS: We were unable to verify volar plate or dorsal screw prominence as independent risk factors for tendon rupture after distal radius fractures. However, we recommend continued follow-up and plate removal for symptomatic patients who have volar plate prominence or dorsal screw prominence. In the event of tendon rupture, we report excellent clinical outcomes after tendon repair or tendon transfer.

TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic IV.

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