Purpose: Dorsal wrist-spanning plate fixation for comminuted, intra-articular distal radius fractures involves the indirect reduction of intra-articular fractures via ligamentotaxis. The reduction is maintained by application of a bridge plate from the radial diaphysis to either the second or third metacarpal. The objective of this study was to retrospectively compare radiographic outcomes between distal radius fractures managed with bridge plate fixation to the second versus third metacarpal. Methods: A single-institution retrospective review identified 50 cases of distal radius fractures that underwent dorsal wrist-spanning plate fixation, with 9 and 41 fractures undergoing fixation to the second and third metacarpals, respectively. Radiographic parameters, such as radial height, radial inclination, volar tilt, and ulnar variance, were measured at 3 time points: immediately after surgery, immediately prior to elective plate removal, and at the final follow-up. Radiographic measurements of the 2 cohorts were compared at the 3 time points. Results: Final radiographs showed an average radial height of 8.9 mm versus 9.4 mm for the second versus third metacarpal cohorts, respectively; average radial inclination of 17.4° for both the second and third metacarpal cohorts; average volar tilt of 1.9° versus 1.7° for the second versus third metacarpal cohorts, respectively; and an average ulnar variance of +0.6 mm versus +0.1 mm for the second versus third metacarpal cohorts, respectively. Radiographic parameters of the second and third metacarpal cohorts were similar across all the time points. Additionally, evaluation of the radiographic parameters across the 3 time points (immediately after surgery, immediately prior to elective plate removal, and at the final follow-up) demonstrated little to no loss of radiographic alignment. Conclusions: Radiographic outcomes for distal radius fractures managed with bridge plate fixation to the second versus third metacarpal appear similar. The distal plate fixation site can likely be determined on the basis of fracture anatomy and patient-specific features. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.
- Dorsal bridge plate
- radiographic outcomes
- wrist-spanning plate
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine