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Open Access Research article

Loss of correction in unstable comminuted distal radius fractures with external fixation and bone grafting -a long term followup study

PuttaKempa Raju1 and Sunil Gurpur Kini2*

Author Affiliations

1 Victoria Hospital, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bangalore, India

2 Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2011, 6:23  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-6-23

Published: 21 May 2011


Over the years, management of complex distal radius fractures by closed means has often failed leading to late collapse. We have chosen the principle of ligamentotaxis using external fixation and bone grafting in this study to prevent late complications. Eighty one patients with complex distal radius fractures belonging to Type IV A, IV B, IV C of Universal classification were treated with an AO external fixator between 1995 and 2001. Mean age group was 38. 47 years with longest follow up of 7 years. Bone grafting was done primarily in 20 patients and early grafting (within 3 weeks) in 5 patients. Statistically significant differences were observed between the two groups(with or without bone grafting) with respect to postoperative values of (radial length, radial tilt and volar tilt). Results were assessed based on Sarmientos criteria. 56 patients had excellent results, 9 had good results and 16 had poor results. Late collapse with decreased radial length was observed in 18 patients who did not undergo bone grafting. Mean grip strength was 63 percent. Osteoarthritic changes were noted in 20 patients. We conclude that accurate anatomic reduction is necessary for achieving good to excellent functional and cosmetic results. Bone grafting is the mainstay of treatment in comminuted distal radius fractures along with fracture stabilisation.