Date: 07 Dec 2013

Effect of untreated triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tears on the clinical outcome of conservatively treated distal radius fractures

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Abstract

Objective

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of untreated triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tear on the clinical outcome of conservatively treated distal radius fractures.

Materials and methods

This prospective study comprised 47 consecutive patients who presented at our clinic between January 2009 and January 2010 with displaced radius distal fracture and were treated with closed reduction and casting. During the first 15 days of treatment, all patients underwent wrist MR imaging to detect traumatic TFCC tears. At the final follow-up, all patients were evaluated with Mayo wrist function score and wrist radiographs. Patients were divided into two groups according to presence of TFCC tear, and two groups were analyzed statistically.

Results

The mean follow-up period was 38.9 ± 3.5 months (range 36–48). TFCC tear was detected in 24 cases, and remaining 23 cases had no TFCC tear. Both groups were statistically similar regarding age (p = 0.574), gender (p = 0.108), dominant side involvement (p = 0.339), fracture type (p = 0.709) and immobilization period (p = 0.514). According to Mayo wrist score, excellent results were obtained in 21 (44.7 %) cases, good in 16 (34.0 %) and satisfactory in 10 (21.3 %). No significant difference was observed between groups in wrist function scores (p = 0.451). Radiographic measurements were similar between groups (radial length p = 0.835, volar til p = 0.464, radial inclination p = 0.795).

Conclusions

Traumatic TFCC tears which are frequently seen together with distal radius fractures do not affect the long-term functional results. Therefore, further diagnostic tests and treatment of TFCC tears in patients with stable distal radius fractures may be unnecessary. However, it should be borne in mind as a reason for continuing wrist pain and instability after distal radius fractures despite proper radiologic recovery.