Soft tissue complications of dorsal versus volar plating for ulnar shortening osteotomy

J Hand Surg Am. 2015 May;40(5):928-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2014.12.042. Epub 2015 Feb 24.


Purpose: To compare the results and complications of fixed-angle dorsal locking plate fixation for ulnar shortening osteotomy (USO) with the conventional technique of volar plating.

Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 32 patients undergoing USO on 34 wrists and compared the outcomes of 16 consecutive cases with dorsal 2.4/2.7-mm fixed-angle plating and 18 consecutive cases with volar 3.5-mm plating. A minimum of 12 months' follow-up was used to assess outcomes. Primary outcomes were painful hardware and removal of symptomatic implants. Secondary outcomes were pain, Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation, range of motion, time to union, grip strength, and complications.

Results: There were no significant differences in Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation, pain score, range of motion, or time to union. Relative grip strength compared with the contralateral upper extremity in the dorsal group was higher than the volar group. After adjusting for hand dominance, dorsal plating was significantly associated with higher relative grip strength. There were 2 complications in the dorsal group, including one case with painful hardware. This was significantly lower than in the volar group, which had 10 complications including 2 nonunions and 6 cases of hardware-related soft tissue irritation.

Conclusions: Both volar and dorsal plating techniques for USO yielded good functional outcomes. There was a higher incidence of painful hardware requiring removal of implants in the volar group. Based on these findings, we advocate dorsal plate position using a smaller fixed-angle plate for USO in ulnar impaction syndrome.

Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic III.

Keywords: Complications; hardware; ulnar impaction syndrome; ulnar shortening osteotomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Plates*
  • Bone Screws
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / pathology
  • Joint Diseases / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteotomy / methods
  • Pain Measurement
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syndrome
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ulna / pathology
  • Ulna / surgery*
  • Wrist Joint