External fixation versus conservative treatment for distal radial fractures in adults

Added April 9, 2013

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There is some evidence to support the use of external fixation for dorsally displaced fractures of the distal radius in adults. Though there is insufficient evidence to confirm a better functional outcome, external fixation reduces redisplacement, gives improved anatomical results and most of the excess surgically-related complications are minor.

Fracture of the distal radius (‘broken wrist’) can be treated conservatively, usually involving wrist immobilisation in a plaster cast, or surgically. A key method of surgical fixation is external fixation. This review evaluates the evidence from randomised controlled trials comparing external fixation with conservative treatment for fractures of the distal radius in adults.