Magnitude, Direction, Temporal Patterns, and Frequency of Loss of Distal Radius Fracture Reduction in Women 50 Years and Older

J Hand Surg Am. 2022 May;47(5):409-419. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2022.01.016. Epub 2022 Mar 26.


Purpose: To determine the magnitude, direction, temporal patterns, and frequency of reduction loss following nonsurgical, closed treatment of distal radius fractures in women 50 years and older and correlate these observations with bone mineral density and age.

Methods: We reviewed registry data on 1,148 patients 50 years and older with distal radius fractures managed by closed reduction and cast immobilization. Radial inclination (RI), ulnar variance (UV), and radial tilt (RT) were measured immediately and at 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 12 weeks after reduction. Magnitude, direction, frequency, and patterns of change were compared at each time point and correlated with bone mineral density T-scores and age using paired t tests in a mixed effects model.

Results: Over 12 weeks, RI decreased by 3° ± 5°, the majority occurring in the first 2 weeks and significantly correlated with bone mineral density T-score and age. Unexpectedly, RI increased over time in 5% of patients. Ulnar variance increased by 2.3 ± 1.7 mm, the majority occurring in the first 3 weeks and correlated with age. Radial tilt changed by 7° ± 11° in those displacing dorsally and 8° ± 12° in those displacing volarly at 12 weeks, with the majority occurring in the first 3 weeks and significantly correlating with age. Ulnar variance and RT continued to change by small increments between weeks 3 and 6. Nearly 90% of our cohort experienced measurable loss of reduction and 50% changed at least 5° RI, 11° RT, and 2 mm UV.

Conclusions: Most distal radius fracture managed with closed reduction and casting have some loss of reduction, the majority occurring in the first 3 weeks and correlated with increased age and osteoporosis. This guides clinicians in informing patients about expected reduction loss, frequency of clinical and radiographic follow-up, and timing of discussions regarding the need for surgery.

Type of study/level of evidence: Prognostic II.

Keywords: Closed management; distal radius fracture; fragility fracture; loss of reduction; malunion.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis*
  • Radius
  • Radius Fractures* / surgery
  • Radius Fractures* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome