, Volume 133, Issue 5, pp 595-602
Date: 19 Feb 2013

Non-bridging external fixation employing multiplanar K-wires versus volar locked plating for dorsally displaced fractures of the distal radius

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Abstract

Background

The aim of this study was to compare non-bridging external fixation to palmar angular stable plating with respect to radiological outcome, wrist function, and quality of life.

Methods

One hundred and two consecutive patients (mean age: 63 years) were enrolled in the study. Fifty-two patients were randomized for plate osteosynthesis (2.4 mm, Synthes), 50 patients received non-bridging external fixation (AO small fixator). Objective (range of motion, grip strength), patient rated outcomes (quality of life, pain), and radiological outcome were assessed 8 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year after surgery.

Results

Loss of radial length of more than 3 mm was not detected in any group. Volar tilt was better restored by external fixation (7.2°) than by volar plating (0.1°). Wrist function was good in both groups. The external fixator was tolerated very well, and the quality of life assessment revealed comparable results in both groups. Osteoporosis was found in 54 % of patients and had no influence on radiological and functional outcome.

Conclusion

Non-bridging external fixation employing multiplanar K-wires is a suitable treatment option in intra- and extra-articular fractures of the distal radius even in osteoporotic bone.

Level of evidence

Prospective randomized trial, Level I.

G. Gradl and G. Gradl contributed equally.