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Comparison of palmar locking plate and K-wire augmented external fixation for intra-articular and comminuted distal radius fractures



Comparison of palmar locking plate and K-wire augmented external fixation for intra-articular and comminuted distal radius fractures



Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica 44(3): 212-219



This study was designed to compare the results of palmar locking plate and K-wire augmented external fixation in the treatment of intra-articular comminuted distal radius fractures. The study included 30 patients with intra-articular comminuted distal radius fractures. Sixteen patients (11 men, 5 women; mean age 49 ± 16 years) underwent open reduction and palmar locking plate fixation, and 14 patients (11 men, 3 women; mean age 35 ± 10 years) underwent closed reduction and K-wire augmented external fixation. In both groups, eight patients had accompanying injuries. According to the AO/ASIF classification, there were four C1, 10 C2, and two C3 fractures in the locking plate group, and three C1, eight C2, and three C3 fractures in the external fixation group. For functional assessment, joint range of motion and grip strength were measured. The patients were assessed using the Gartland-Werley scale. Subjective functional assessment was made using the QuickDASH scale. On final radiographs, the presence of osteoarthrosis in the radiocarpal joint was assessed according to the Broberg-Morrey criteria. The follow-up period was at least 12 months (26.1 ± 6.1 months in the locking plate group, and 62.7 ± 16.8 months in the external fixation group). Wrist flexion (p=0.012) and supination (p=0.003) degrees at final follow-up were significantly greater in the locking plate group. Other range of motion parameters were similar in the two groups. On final radiographic measurements, there were no significant differences between the two groups with respect to losses in palmar angulation, radial length, and radial inclination, and change in ulnar variance. The mean Gartland-Werley scores did not differ significantly (2.4 ± 2.4 with plate fixation, and 2.0 ± 2.8 with external fixation; p>0.05). The results were excellent in 11 patients (68.8%) and good in five patients (31.3%) with plate fixation. The results of external fixation were excellent in 11 patients (78.6%), good in two patients (14.3%), and moderate in one patient (7.1%). The mean QuickDASH scores and time to return to work were similar in patients treated with a locking plate and external fixator (QuickDASH score 2.4 ± 3.0 and 2.9 ± 5.4; 1.9 ± 0.5 months and 2.1 ± 0.7 months, respectively; p>0.05). The mean loss of strength compared to the healthy side at final follow-up was 3% in the locking plate group, and 5% in the external fixation group. Radiographic findings of stage 1 osteoarthrosis were observed in four patients (25%) in the plate group, and in 11 patients (78.6%) in the external fixation group. There were no complications in the locking plate group. In the external fixation group, two patients (14.3%) had regional pain syndrome, three patients (21.4%) had superficial pin and wire tract infections, and one patient complained of adherence at entry sites of the fixator. Overall, nine patients (64.3%) expressed dissatisfaction with the external fixator. Our results showed no superiority between the two treatment methods with respect to objective and subjective tools of evaluation. Palmar locking plate fixation was associated with full patient satisfaction. K-wire augmented external fixation can be used as a safe method in selected cases in which the severity of distal radius fracture would not allow palmar locking plate fixation.

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Accession: 052239875

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PMID: 21088462


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