Does malunion in multiple planes predict worse functional outcomes in distal radial fractures?

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Abstract

Background:

The objective of this study was to investigate whether the total number of radiographic malalignments after distal radial fracture was associated with poor clinical outcome.

Methods:

Over a 7-year period, 382 patients who sustained a distal radial fracture were enrolled in a prospectively collected database and met our inclusion criteria. Patients were followed for a mean of 11 mo. Radiographs were taken and analyzed at each follow-up interval. Patients were divided in three groups, those with normal radiographic alignment (group 1), those with one abnormal measurement (group 2), and those with two or more abnormal measurements (group 3). Each patient was assessed for the Disabilities of the Arm Shoulder and Hand (DASH) and Short Form-36 (SF36) clinical outcome scores, along with functional parameters.

Results:

Thirty-four percent of patients had at least one abnormal radiographic measurement after initial reduction, 21% at short-term, and 24% at long-term follow-up. The long-term DASH was low (18.17 and 12.12 in groups 2 and 3, respectively) and the SF36 was correspondingly high (77.36 and 80.45 in groups 2 and 3, respectively). No individual radiographic measurement of wrist deformity or a combination of these was significantly correlated to any of the clinical outcome scores or functional parameters.

Conclusions:

Our data confirm reports from previous studies that no single radiographic measurement was correlated with clinical or functional outcomes. Moreover, if analyzed in combination, malalignment in multiple planes did not result in a higher association with worse outcomes.

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