ORIF with volar locking plates provide better functional outcome than external fixation
Functional outcome in patients with unstable distal radius fractures, volar locking plate versus external fixation: a meta-analysisStrategies Trauma Limb Reconstr. 2013 Aug;8(2):67-75. doi: 10.1007/s11751-013-0169-4. Epub 2013 Jul 28
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Three randomized clinical trials were included in this meta-analysis which compared open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) with volar locking plates to bridging external fixation in the treatment of unstable distal radius fractures. Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) scores at 3, 6, and 12 months were significantly better in patients who received ORIF. There was no significant difference between treatments for complication rates.
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Detsky AS, Naylor CD, O'Rourke K, McGeer AJ, L'Abbé KA. J Clin Epidemiol. 1992;45:255-65
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Why was this study needed now?
Distal radius fractures are fairly common, and controversy exists as to the most effective surgical treatment. Bridging external fixation, either with or without Kirschner wires, has traditionally been seen as a fast and effective procedure. However, proponents of open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) with locking plates underline that the immediate stable fixation with ORIF may allow for better recovery. To date, there has been no conclusive evidence to advocate one surgical treatment over the other.
What was the principal research question?
Was there a superior surgical option between ORIF with locking plates and bridging external fixation when concerning fractures of the distal radius?
What were the important findings?
- A total of 3 studies were included in this meta-analysis
- Differences in DASH score significantly favoured ORIF with volar locking plates over bridging external fixation at 3 months (MD -15.58 (95%CI -24.52 to -6.64); P=0.006), 6 months (MD -6.20 (95%CI -9.83 to -2.58); P=0.008), and 12 months (MD -8.00 (95%CI -15.55 to -0.44); P=0.04) following surgery.
- The heterogeneity in the analyses of DASH scores at 3 months (I^2 = 72%) and 12 months (I^2 = 63%) was substantial.
- There was no significant difference between treatments when considering pooled complication rate (OR 0.71 (95%CI 0.34-1.46); P=0.35).
What should I remember most?
Open reduction and internal fixation with volar locking plates resulted in a significantly better functional outcome on the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) measurement at 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively compared to bridging external fixation. Clinical significance of the mean difference in DASH scores at 6 and 12 months is yet unclear as it falls below the threshold of 10 points for definite clinical significance.
How will this affect the care of my patients?
Early functional recovery appears to be benefited by ORIF for unstable distal radial fractures. This intervention may, therefore, be more appealing to patients with a higher postoperative functional demand. Future analyses should consider a wider array of outcome variables to add to the body of evidence concerning ORIF and external fixation for distal radius fractures.
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