Complications of Volar Plate Fixation for Managing Distal Radius Fractures

Lisa M. Berglund, MD and Terry M. Messer, MD J Am Acad Orthop Surg, Vol 17, No 6, June 2009,

Volar locking plate fixation via open reduction and internal fixation is an increasingly accepted method for managing displaced distal radius fractures. Volar plating offers biomechanically stable fixation, allows early rehabilitation, and enables fixation of comminuted or osteopenic bone. The literature reporting complications of volar plate fixation is limited primarily to case reports and small case series. The surgeon must be mindful of potential soft-tissue, neurovascular, and osseous complications, such as extensor tendon and flexor tendon injury, flexor pollicis rupture, carpal tunnel syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, and loss of reduction, as well as hardware failure. Increased awareness of potential complications may lead to more prompt recognition and treatment when they do arise.

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