Using a volar approach to avoid the soft tissue problems associated with dorsal plating, we treated a consecutive series of 29 patients with 31 dorsally displaced, unstable distal radial fractures with a new fixed-angle internal fixation device. At a minimal follow-up time of 12 months the fractures had healed with highly satisfactory radiographic and functional results. The final volar tilt averaged 5°; radial inclination, 21°; radial shortening, 1 mm; and articular incongruity, 0 mm. Wrist motion at final follow-up examination averaged 59° extension, 57° flexion, 27° ulnar deviation, 17° radial deviation, 80° pronation, and 78° supination. Grip strength was 79% of the contralateral side. The overall outcome according to the Gartland and Werley scales showed 19 excellent and 12 good results. Our experience indicates that most dorsally displaced distal radius fractures can be anatomically reduced and fixed through a volar approach. The combination of stable internal fixation with the preservation of the dorsal soft tissues resulted in rapid fracture healing, reduced need for bone grafting, and low incidence of tendon problems in our study. Copyright © 2002 by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.
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