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Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2003;37(2):126-32.

[Short-term results of external fixation of unstable distal radial fractures].

[Article in Turkish]

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GATA Haydarpaşa Eğitim Hastanesi Ortopedi ve Travmatoloji Kliniği, Istanbul.



We assessed the effectiveness of external fixation in the treatment of unstable distal radial fractures.


Twenty-five patients (19 males, 6 females; mean age 39 years; range 20 to 71 years) with unstable distal radius fractures were treated by external fixation. Three patients had open fractures. According to the AO classification, the fractures were B1 (1 fracture), B2 (2), C1 (8), C2 (10), and C3 (4). External fixator was combined with K-wires or volar plates in 17 fractures. The fixator was used for a mean of 6.6 weeks, and the mean follow-up was 13.5 months. The earliest radiologic-anatomic and functional evaluations were based on the findings obtained at the end of six months. A modified Sarmiento scoring system was used for radiologic-anatomic assessment. For functional assessment, the scoring system proposed by Sarmiento et al. was used, which was based on the Gartland and Werley's system.


Radiologic measurements indicated that anatomical results were excellent in 16 patients (64%), good in eight patients (32%), and fair in one patient (4%). Functional results were excellent in four patients (16%), good in seven patients (28%), fair in 11 patients (44%), and poor in three patients (12%). The complications encountered were pin tract infections in four patients, breakage of the fixator pin holder in one patient, and the development of reflex sympathetic dystrophy in five patients.


Our data suggest that high success rates in anatomic results do not closely reflect satisfactory functional results. The protocol to be implemented after the application of the external fixator has to be determined according to the type of the fracture.

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