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Acta Orthop. 2006 Jun;77(3):445-53.

Wrist-bridging versus non-bridging external fixation for displaced distal radius fractures: a randomized assessor-blind clinical trial of 38 patients followed for 1 year.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Kristianstad Hospital, Kristianstad, Sweden.



Non-bridging external fixation has been introduced to achieve better fracture fixation and functional outcomes in distal radius fractures, but has not been specifically evaluated in a randomized study in the elderly. The purpose of this trial was to compare wrist-bridging and non-bridging external fixation for displaced distal radius fractures.


The inclusion criteria were women >/= 50 or men >/= 60 years, acute extraarticular or intraarticular fracture, and dorsal angulation of >/=20 degrees or ulnar variance >/= 5 mm. The patients completed the disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand (DASH) questionnaire before and at 10, 26 and 52 weeks after surgery. Pain (visual analog scale), range of motion and grip strength were measured by a blinded assessor.


38 patients (mean age 71 years, 31 women) were randomized at surgery (19 to each group). Mean operating time was shorter for wrist-bridging fixation by 10 (95% CI 3-17) min. There was no significant difference in DASH scores between the groups. No statistically significant differences in pain score, range of motion, grip strength, or patient satisfaction were found. The non-bridging group had a significantly better radial length at 52 weeks; mean difference in change in ulnar variance from baseline was 1.4 (95% CI 0.1-2.7) mm (p = 0.04). Volar tilt and radial inclination were similar in both groups.


For moderately or severely displaced distal radius fractures in the elderly, non-bridging external fixation had no clinically relevant advantage over wrist-bridging fixation but was more effective in maintaining radial length.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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