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Surgical fixation of distal ulna neck and head fractures.

OBJECTIVES: Distal ulna plate fixation for ulnar neck and head fractures (excluding ulnar styloid fractures) aims to anatomically reduce the distal ulna fracture (DUF) by open reduction and internal fixation, while obtaining a stable construct allowing functional rehabilitation without need for cast immobilization.

INDICATIONS: Severe displacement, angulation or translation, as well as unstable or intra-articular fractures. Furthermore, multiple trauma or young patients in need of quick functional rehabilitation.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Inability to surgically address concomitant ipsilateral extremity fractures, thus, limiting early active rehabilitation. Stable, nondisplaced fractures. Need for bridging plate or external fixator of distal radiocarpal joint.

SURGICAL TECHNIQUE: An ulnar approach, with a straight incision between the extensor and flexor carpi ulnaris. Preservation of the dorsal branch of the ulnar nerve. Reduction and plate fixation with avoidance of plate impingement in the articular zone.

POSTOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT: Postoperatively, an elastic bandage is applied for the first 24-48 h. In isolated DUF with stable fixation, a postoperative splint is often unnecessary and should be avoided. For the first four weeks, only light weightbearing of everyday activities is allowed to protect the osteosynthesis. Thereafter, heavier weightbearing and activities are allowed and can be increased as tolerated.

RESULTS: The best available evidence likely shows that for younger patients with a DUF, with or without concomitant distal radius fractures, open reduction and internal fixation can be safely achieved with good functional outcome and acceptable union and complication rates as long as proper technique is ensured.

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