Surgical Treatment of Unstable Distal Radius Fractures With a Volar Variable-Angle Locking Plate: Clinical and Radiological Outcomes


1 Department of Orthopaedics, GGS Medical College Faridkot, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, India

2 Department of Orthopaedics, Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, (AIIMS), New Delhi, Delhi, India



Unstable distal end radius fractures are difficult to manage and so various treatment modalities have been described. The use of variable-angle locking plates is promoted for the management of these fractures.

This study aimed to evaluate the functional and radiological outcomes in unstable distal end radius fractures treated with variable-angle locking plates.

Patients and Methods
We reviewed 23 unstable distal end radius fractures that were treated at our institution with volar variable-angle locking plates. The mean age of the patients was 32.82 ± 11.81 years (range 19 to 62) and the mean duration of follow-up was 11.04 ± 2.47 months (range 6 to 15). All of the patients underwent open reduction and internal fixation with a variable-angle locking plate. Radiological parameters such as radial inclination, length, tilt, and ulnar variance were measured at six weeks and at the final follow-up. The functional evaluation was conducted by measuring the range of motion at the wrist joint as well as the grip strength. Gartland and Werley’s demerit scoring system was used to assess the final outcome.

There were two cases of superficial infection that responded to oral antibiotics. One patient had developed a hypertrophic scar, while another had carpal tunnel syndrome that was conservatively managed. There was a significant improvement in the functional indices from six weeks to the final follow-up, while the radiological parameters were maintained. According to Gartland and Werley, excellent results were reported in 65.2% cases, while good results were present in 35% cases.

The use of variable-angle locking plates in treating unstable distal end radius fractures is associated with excellent to good functional outcomes with minimal complications.