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Treatment of intra-articular fractures of the distal radius


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In a randomised prospective study, 20 patients with intra-articular fractures of the distal radius underwent arthroscopically- and fluoroscopically-assisted reduction and external fixation plus percutaneous pinning. Another group of 20 patients with the same fracture characteristics underwent fluoroscopically-assisted reduction alone and external fixation plus percutaneous pinning. The patients were evaluated clinically and radiologically at follow-up of 24 months. The Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) questionnaire and modified Mayo wrist score were used at 3, 9, 12 and 24 months postoperatively. In the arthroscopically- and fluoroscopically-assisted group, triangular fibrocartilage complex tears were found in 12 patients (60%), complete or incomplete scapholunate ligament tears in nine (45%), and lunotriquetral ligament tears in four (20%). They were treated either arthroscopically or by open operation. Patients who underwent arthroscopically- and fluoroscopically-assisted treatment had significantly better supination, extension and flexion at all time points than those who had fluoroscopically-assisted surgery. The mean DASH scores were similar for both groups at 24 months, whereas the difference in the mean modified Mayo wrist scores remained statistically significant.

Although the groups are small, it is clear that the addition of arthroscopy to the fluoroscopically-assisted treatment of intra-articular distal radius fractures improves the outcome. Better treatment of associated intra-articular injuries might also have been a reason for the improved outcome.

Correspondence should be sent to Professor K. Malizos; e-mail: malizos@med.uth.gr

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