Distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) instability often accompanies distal radial fractures. The goal of this study was to investigate whether DRUJ should be fixed to prevent recurrent DRUJ instability in distal radius fracture patients with unstable DRUJ following open reduction and volar plate fixation of the radius.
A retrospective chart review was performed on forty-nine consecutive patients presenting distal radius fracture who were diagnosed with distal radioulnar instability after radius fixation with volar plate. Group one consisted of 24 patients whose DRUJs were fixed in neutral for 6weeks with 1∼2 Kirschner wires (8 cases combined with casting), whereas group two consisted of 25 patients without DRUJ fixation. All patients had radiographic evaluation of their wrist and DRUJ for stabilities and underwent functional evaluation using modified Gartland and Werley demerit scoring system (GW score).
All patients were followed-up for an average of 15months (12–24months) after surgery. No significant difference was noted between the two groups with respect to gender, age, fracture types and damage types (no noteworthy medical comorbidities in either group). At the latest follow-up, patients in both groups had comparable grip strength, wrist motion, and visual analogue scale (VAS) and GW scores. Only one patient (2.4%) demonstrated DRUJ chronic instability, but did not require any additional surgery.
The results suggest that in patients with distal radius fractures, fixation of unstable DRUJs in neutral for 6weeks does not have an advantage over non-fixation.
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Keywords : Distal radius fracture, Distal radioulnar joint, Joint instability, Volar plate, Gartland and Werley demerit scoring system, Visual analogue scale