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Injury. 2014 Mar;45(3):528-33. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2013.10.003. Epub 2013 Oct 14.

Complications after volar locking plate fixation of distal radius fractures.

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  • 1Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, UK. Electronic address: nickjnajohnson@yahoo.co.uk.
  • 2Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, UK.


Volar locking plates are an increasingly popular treatment for distal radius fractures. We reviewed complications observed after volar locking plate fixation in a busy teaching hospital. The purpose of the study was to assess whether complication rates after volar locking plate use in general, routine trauma practice were higher than published literature from expert users. A retrospective review was carried out of patients treated with a volar locking plate between January 2009 and December 2010. The series included 206 procedures in 204 patients (77 males and 127 females) with mean age of 55 years (range 16-94). Surgery was performed by 18 different consultant surgeons and 11 registrars. A total of 22 complications were observed in 20 patients with an overall complication rate of 9.7%. Seven (3.4%) patients developed tendon problems including four (1.9%) tendon ruptures. Four (1.9%) patients required re-operation for metalwork problems; four patients developed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Three fracture reduction problems were noted. A total of 16 further operations were carried out for complications. The overall complication rate was low even when surgery was done by many surgeons, suggesting that this is a safe and reproducible technique. This study provides information which can be used to counsel patients about risks, including those of tendon and metalwork problems. This allows patients to make an informed decision. Surgeons must have specific strategies to avoid these complications and remain vigilant so that these can be identified and managed early.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Complications; Distal radius; Internal fixation; Volar locking plates

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