Wrist arthroscopy in the management of articular distal radius fractures

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Fractures of the distal radius account for 15% of all fractures. The use of arthroscopy is increasingly popular in the last years, with the goal to achieve a better anatomical reduction of the articular fragments.

Sources of data

We searched the literature on Medline (PubMed), Web of Science and Scopus databases using the combined keywords ‘wrist’, ‘distal radial fracture’, ‘distal radius fracture’ and ‘arthroscopy’. Twenty-eight studies were identified. The quality of the studies was assessed using the Coleman Methodological Score.

Areas of agreement

Arthroscopy allows to detect intra-articular, ligamentous and triangular fibrocartilage complex injuries in an acute setting with a better prognosis. Arthroscopy increases the quality of the intra-articular reduction compared to fluoroscopy.

Areas of controversy

The main limitation of the selected studies is the short follow-up: the average follow-up in 20 studies was 12 months, a period long enough to assess functional outcomes, but not to assess the occurrence of post-traumatic degenerative changes and their impact on function. Better stratification of the fracture population is needed.

Growing points

The shorter recovery time and the low incidence of adverse effects are the main advantages of this new technology.

Areas timely for developing research

There is need to perform randomized controlled trials reporting on the use of volar locking plates as, at the present time, they are the standard management for these fractures. In addition, the different pattern of fracture should be better classified to manage the patients who will benefit after the management.

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