Seven cases of post-traumatic intra-articular malunion of the distal radius treated using costal cartilage graft with a minimum follow-up of 2 years are reported. Location of the articular defect was dorsal in two cases and volar in the others. The approach (dorsal or volar) depended on the main location of the defect. A costal cartilage graft harvested on the eighth rib was implanted in a trough created at the epiphysis metaphyseal junction. This trough removed the defective area on the distal radius articular surface. A plate or wire fixation was used to stabilize in place the graft. Plaster cast wear was prescribed for 3 months in the first case and for 1 month in the other cases following joint reconstruction. No complications were observed. Union was achieved in all seven cases. Graft integration and viability were evaluated with MRI and biopsy. At the longest follow-up, the functional results were excellent in the first (youngest) case (male, 22 years old) in whom motion and grasp were similar to the contralateral side. In the other cases of malunion, the patients were pain-free in daily activities with a functional wrist score of 72/100 (range, 54–82) and a DASH score of 38.3 (range, 22.5–51.7). Only the case with a septic problem failed, with pain reported at follow-up. Reconstruction of a partially destroyed articular surface using a costal graft is reliable and allows filling and resurfacing an articular cartilage void. Although costal cartilage graft is currently used in maxillofacial surgery, this is the first report in post-traumatic osteoarthritis secondary to intra-articular malunion.
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Keywords : Intra-articular malunion, Distal radius fracture, Costal cartilage graft, Articular surface defect