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[Distal radius fracture-tactic and approach].

OBJECTIVE: The aim of surgical treatment is fracture healing with restored alignment, rotation, and joint surface. Stable fixation allows for functional postoperative aftercare.

INDICATIONS: Displaced intra- and extra-articular fractures which either could not be adequately reduced or in which a secondary displacement is to expected due to instability criteria. The following factors are considered instability criteria: age > 60 years, female, initial dorsal displacement > 20°, dorsal comminution, radial shortening > 5 mm, palmar displacement.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: The only absolute contraindication is if the patient is deemed unfit for surgery due to concerns regarding anesthesia. Old age is a relative contraindication, as it is currently debated whether older patients benefit from the operation.

SURGICAL TECHNIQUE: The surgical technique is guided by the fracture pattern. Palmar plating is most commonly performed. If the joint surface needs to be visualized, a dorsal approach (in combination with another approach or alone) or arthroscopically assisted fixation should be chosen.

POSTOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT: In general, a functional postoperative regime can be carried out after plate fixation with mobilization without weightbearing. Short-term splinting can provide pain relief. Concomitant ligamentous injuries and fixations, which are not stable enough for functional aftercare (such as k‑wires) require a longer period of immobilization.

RESULTS: Provided the fracture is reduced correctly, osteosynthesis improves functional outcome. The complication rate ranges between 9 and 15% with the most common complication being tendon irritation/rupture and plate removal. Whether surgical treatment holds the same benefits for patients > 65 years as for younger patients is currently under debate.

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