Volar locking plate versus external fixation with optional additional K-wire for treatment of AO type C2/C3 fractures: a retrospective comparative study

J Orthop Surg Res. 2019 Aug 27;14(1):271. doi: 10.1186/s13018-019-1309-4.


Purpose: This study aimed to compare the radiographic and functional results of Arbeitsgemeinschaftfür Osteosynthesefragen (AO) type C2/C3 fracture of distal radius between volar locking plate (VLP) and external fixation (EF).

Methods: It was a retrospective comparative study. Between January 2015 and March 2018, a total of 62/117 patients who underwent EF (23) or VLP fixation (39) for AO type C2/C3 distal radius fractures were assessed. The follow-up period was at least 12 months. Gartland-Werley scale and the disabilities of the arm, shoulder, and hand (DASH) scale were used to evaluate the overall functional outcomes; wrist range of motion and grip strength were measured. The radiographic parameters included radial inclination, volar tilt, radial length, ulnar variance, and articular step-off. All of the comparisons were performed using SPSS 21.0.

Results: The mean follow-up time was 17.1 months. At final visit, VLP performed better in wrist flexion (69.7° vs 62.3°, p < 0.001), forearm pronation (73.1° vs 64.8°, p = 0.027) and supination (70.6° vs 63.1°, p = 0.033) than EF, but not different with regard to other kinematic parameters. No significant difference was found between two groups, in term of Gartland-Werley or DASH score (p > 0.05). The ulnar variance and articular step-off was significantly more improved in VLP than EF group, being 0.6 vs 1.6 mm (p = 0.002) and 0.5 vs 1.2 mm (p = 0.007). The overall rate of complications did not differ in both groups (28.2% vs 34.5%) (p = 0.587).

Conclusions: Compared to EF, VLP fixation showed better performance in wrist mobility, correction of ulnar variance, and improving articular congruence, but with the comparable overall functional outcomes and complication rate.

Keywords: Clinical outcome; Distal radius; External fixation; Unstable intra-articular fracture; Volar plate fixation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Plates / standards*
  • Bone Wires / standards*
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation / instrumentation*
  • Fracture Fixation / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radius Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radius Fractures / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome