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BACKGROUND: Fractures of the distal radius are common. As the population of the western world ages, their incidence is set to increase further. There are various methods of treating these fractures, but optimal management remains controversial. In the United Kingdom, the most common surgical treatment of closed distal radius fractures is by Kirschner-wires (K-wires) or volar locking plate. In this study, we compared long-term functional outcomes of volar locking plates with those of K-wires. METHODS: A retrospective comparative study of 71 patients with dorsally displaced distal radius fractures treated contemporaneously in two independent hospitals was performed. One group was treated with a volar locking plate (n = 36) and the other group with manipulation and K-wire fixation (n = 35). There was no difference between the two groups in terms of demographics or grade of fracture. Outcome was measured 15 months to 27 months post surgery using the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand score and the Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation score. RESULTS: We found no statistical difference between the two groups in the Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation score or Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand score at 1 year to 2 years postsurgery. CONCLUSION: We have been unable to demonstrate a clinically relevant advantage of using volar locking plates over K-wires at 1 year to 2 years postoperatively.

Original publication




Journal article


J trauma

Publication Date





E125 - E128


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Bone Plates, Bone Wires, Disability Evaluation, Female, Fracture Fixation, Internal, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Radius Fractures, Recovery of Function, Retrospective Studies, Surveys and Questionnaires, Treatment Outcome