Catalano, Louis W III MD; Barron, O Alton MD; Glickel, Steven Z MD
Intraarticular step and gap displacements represent the most common indication for surgical treatment of distal radius fractures. Most often, treatment decision making relies only on good-quality plain radiographs taken before and after reduction with measurement accuracy maximized by using the longitudinal axis method. When plain radiographs alone prove insufficient, CT scans or tomograms will significantly improve interobserver and intraobserver reliability of measurements, especially when evaluated using the arc method. Tomography is an effective method for postoperative evaluation of fractures immobilized in splints or casts. The role of MRI in assessing intraarticular distal radius fractures is limited to confirming injuries to carpal ligaments or the triangular fibrocartilage complex. Intraoperatively, we use fluoroscopy to obtain 30[degrees] cephalad posteroanterior views and as 22[degrees] lateral views to best observe articular surface reduction. Our current operative indications include fractures with radiocarpal or distal radioulnar joint step or gap deformities greater than 1-2 mm, gross distal radioulnar joint instability, or those with extensive metaphyseal comminution rendering them particularly unstable after closed reduction. In general, we tend to lean toward operative fixation in younger, more active patients.
Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research. 1(423):79-84, June 2004.