JOURNAL ARTICLE

Volar plate position and flexor tendon rupture following distal radius fracture fixation

Alison Kitay, Morgan Swanstrom, Joseph J Schreiber, Michelle G Carlson, Joseph T Nguyen, Andrew J Weiland, Aaron Daluiski
Journal of Hand Surgery 2013, 38 (6): 1091-6
23647641

PURPOSE: To determine whether there were differences between plate position in patients who had postoperative flexor tendon ruptures following volar plate fixation of distal radius fractures and those who did not.

METHODS: Three blinded reviewers measured the volar plate prominence and position on the lateral radiographs of 8 patients treated for flexor tendon ruptures and 17 matched control patients without ruptures following distal radius fracture fixation. We graded plate prominence using the Soong grading system, and we measured the distances between the plate and both the volar critical line and the volar rim of the distal radius.

RESULTS: A higher Soong grade was associated with flexor tendon rupture. Patients with ruptures had plates that were more prominent volarly and more distal than matched controls without ruptures. Plate prominence projecting greater than 2.0 mm volar to the critical line had a sensitivity of 0.88, a specificity of 0.82, and positive and negative predictive values of 0.70 and 0.93, respectively, for tendon ruptures. Plate position distal to 3.0 mm from the volar rim had a sensitivity of 0.88, a specificity of 0.94, and positive and negative predictive values of 0.88 and 0.94, respectively, for tendon ruptures.

CONCLUSIONS: We identified plate positions associated with attritional flexor tendon rupture following distal radius fracture fixation with volar plates. To decrease rupture risk, we recommend considering elective hardware removal after union in symptomatic patients with plate prominence greater than 2.0 mm volar to the critical line or plate position within 3.0 mm of the volar rim.

TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic III.

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