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Results of external fixator treatment in distal radius intra-articular fractures

Mehmet Sabri Balik, Hakan Gurbuz.

Objectives: Assessing the outcomes of treatment of the radius distal end joint fractures by using the closed reduction external fixation method.
Methods: 41 intra-articular distal radius fractures of 38 patients treated in the Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology in the Medical Faculty of Trakya University between September 1997 and December 2004 were retrospectively examined. All of the fractures were treated by using closed reduction and uniplanar radiocarpal external wrist fixator. The affected limbs were assessed functionally and radiologically during the follow-up period.
Results: Mean duration of external fixation application was 7.3 weeks. Mean follow-up time was 41.6 months. From the functional aspect, very good outcomes were obtained in 10 cases, good outcomes in 14 cases, medium outcomes in 15 cases, and bad outcomes in 2 cases. In radiologic scoring, very good outcomes were reported in 3 cases, good outcomes in 28 cases, medium outcomes in 8 cases, and bad outcomes in 2 cases. In total, 22 complications were observed. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy was observed in 15 cases, pain in the distal radioulnar joint in 8 cases, pain in distal radioulnar joint, and eburnation in 4 cases. In some cases, multiple complications were observed. There were also cases with early-stage sensation disorder and nail tip sensitivity. However, the complaints ended after the removal of the fixator.
Conclusion: In intra-articular distal radius fractures, successful outcomes might be achieved by treating with external fixation without opening the fracture line.

Key words: External fixation, intra-articular fracture, radius, traction, wrist joint

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