Augmented external fixation of distal radius fractures: a biomechanical analysis

J Hand Surg Am. 1998 Jan;23(1):127-34. doi: 10.1016/S0363-5023(98)80100-7.


An in vitro model of an unstable extra-articular distal radius fracture was created in 8 fresh-frozen cadaveric specimens and stabilized with an external fixator. Rotation and translation kinematics of the distal radial fracture fragment were measured in relation to the proximal radius during physiologic loading, using infrared light-emitting diodes and a 3-dimensional motion-sensing device. The effect of supplemental single and combination Kirschner wire (K-wire) fixation on fracture fragment stability was assessed. Fixation of supplemental K-wires to the fixator frame via a custom-developed outrigger assembly was also analyzed. Significant reductions in sagittal plane (flexion/extension) rotation and neutral zone were recorded when the fracture fragment was stabilized with a single styloid or dorsal transfixion K-wire. Equivalent stability was afforded by attachment of a nontransfixion K-wire to the fixator frame via the outrigger assembly. The dorsal constructs compared favorably to the styloid constructs in reduction of the sagittal plane neutral zone and coronal (radioulnar) rotation. These data lend biomechanical support to the concept of augmentation of distal radius external fixation and provide a physiologic model to test fixation methods for other fracture patterns.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Wires*
  • Cadaver
  • Colles' Fracture / physiopathology
  • Colles' Fracture / surgery*
  • External Fixators*
  • Fracture Fixation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Wrist Injuries / physiopathology
  • Wrist Injuries / surgery*
  • Wrist Joint / physiopathology