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Tech Hand Up Extrem Surg. 2005 Mar;9(1):2-6.

Internal distraction plating of distal radius fractures.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Wake Forest University, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.


Internal distraction plating can be used for the treatment of highly comminuted distal radius fractures especially in elderly patients. The technique involves the use of 3.5, 2.7, or 2.5 dynamic compression plates. The instrumentation is applied in distraction dorsally from the radial diaphysis, bypassing the comminuted segment, and fixed distally to the long metacarpal. The advantages of this technique are: a) it can be used as an alternative for managing difficult fractures in the elderly population; b) it is indicated in patients with osteoporotic bone; c) complications associated with external pins are avoided; and d) the stability of the plate allows patients to use the extremity for transfer and activities of daily living. On the other hand, possible disadvantages to be considered are: a) the need of a second operation to remove the plate; and b) the prolonged duration of immobilization. Elderly patients with osteoporotic bone who undergo treatment of comminuted distal radius fractures may result in poor outcomes with high rates of complications if external fixation or standard internal fixation is used. The current approach represents an alternative that provides union of the fracture with excellent alignment, functional range of motion, and minimal functional disability.

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