The purpose of this study was to evaluate the risk of late displacement after the treatment of distal radial fractures with a locking volar plate, and to investigate the clinical and radiological factors that might correlate with re-displacement. From March 2007 to October 2009, 120 of an original cohort of 132 female patients with unstable fractures of the distal radius were treated with a volar locking plate, and were studied over a follow-up period of six months. In the immediate post-operative and final follow-up radiographs, late displacement was evaluated as judged by ulnar variance, radial inclination, and dorsal angulation. We also analysed the correlation of a variety of clinical and radiological factors with re-displacement. Ulnar variance was significantly overcorrected (p < 0.001) while radial inclination and dorsal angulation were undercorrected when compared statistically (p < 0.001) with the unaffected side in the immediate post-operative stage. During followup, radial shortening and dorsal angulation progressed statistically, but none had a value beyond the acceptable range. Bone mineral density measured at the proximal femur and the position of the screws in the subchondral region, correlated with slight progressive radial shortening, which was not clinically relevant.
Volar locking plating of distal radial fractures is a reliable form of treatment without substantial late displacement.