Introduction: Distal radius fractures (DRF) are the most common fractures of the upper extremities and incidence is expected to continue rising as life expectancy increases. Palmar locking plate stabilizing has since become the standard treatment for dorsally displaced DRF. Main aim of this study was to investigate correlation between radiological and clinical outcome in patients stabilized by palmar locking plate with a minimum follow-up of one year.
Methods: A total of 524 patients with DRF, stabilized using palmar angular stable locking plate fixation were included in the study. Of these, 117 patients had to be excluded and another 177 were not accessible. The study group thus compromised 230 patients who returned for the follow-up investigation and were followed-up clinically and radiologically with a mean follow-up interval of 20 months. Outcome was evaluated using pain, range of motion (ROM) and grip strength parameters. In addition, self-assessment by patients was registered on the QuickDASH, PRWE and Mayo Score. The immediate postoperative and final checkup radiographs were scrutinized for alignment and intra-articular step-off.
Results: Bivariant correlation analysis showed a significant correlation between ulnar variance and QuickDASH (r = 0.18, p = 0.01), grip strength (r = - 0.18, p = 0.04) and Mayo Score (r = - 0.23, p = 0.001). No significant differences could be found between an unacceptable (> 2 mm) and acceptable (< 2 mm) ulnar variance in respect of pain, ROM, grip strength and patient-reported outcome measurements. Age, gender, additional fracture to the ulnar styloid, or type of postoperative immobilization showed no significant or clinical important impact on the final patient-reported outcome. No significant differences in incidence of complications, ROM or loss of reduction could be found in any patients over or under 65 years of age.
Conclusions: Stabilization of DRF by palmar angular stable locking plate is a safe form of treatment and results in a good clinical and radiological outcome with low complication rate. Ulnar variance showed a significant correlation to grip strength, QuickDASH and Mayo Score, but an unacceptable ulnar variance (> 2 mm) was not associated with a worse clinical important outcome. Age (< 65/> 65 years), gender and type of immobilization had no impact on the complication rate or in the final functional or radiological outcome.
Keywords: Complications; Distal radius fracture; Outcome; Radiological; Volar locking plate.