Locked volar plating for complex distal radius fractures: Patient reported outcomes and satisfaction

J Orthop Surg Res. 2010 Aug 5;5:51. doi: 10.1186/1749-799X-5-51.


Background: Distal radius fractures are common. The increasing prevalence of osteoporosis contributes to frequently complex articular injuries sustained even after low energy falls. The best method of treating complex type C distal radius fractures is debated. Locked volar plating and external fixation are both widely used with good reported results. Measures of success are traditionally based on technical measurements or the perception of the surgeon. Patient reported measures of outcome are increasingly recognised as important markers of surgical success. We report our experience using locked volar plating for complex type C distal radius fractures as well as patient reported measures of success and satisfaction.

Methods: Over a 12 month period we treated 21 patients with type C distal radius fractures using locked volar plating. These patients were followed up for at least 12 months and the outcome was assessed using clinical examination, grip strength measurements, radiographs and Patient Rated Wrist Evaluation (PRWE) scoring.

Results: The 21 patients studied had an average age of 48 years. There were 8 men and 13 women. All of the fractures had united by 3 months. There were no cases of wound infection or tendon injury/irritation. Patients reported low pain scores, good patient rated wrist evaluation scores and high levels of satisfaction.

Conclusions: Locked volar plating for complex distal radius fractures produces good results when assessed using patient reported measures of outcome. Further work should address whether locked volar plating offers superior outcomes and patient satisfaction compared to external fixation.