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Is external fixation a better way than plaster to supplement K-wires in non-comminuted distal radius fractures?
  1. Sajjad M Athar1,
  2. Neil Ashwood1,
  3. George Aerealis1,
  4. Gregory I Bain2
  1. 1 Department of Orthopaedics, Queen’s Hospital, Burton-on-Trent, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, UK
  2. 2 Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Sajjad M Athar, Department of Orthopaedics, Queen’s Hospital, Belvedere Road, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire DE13 0RB, UK; msathar{at}


Background Distal radius fractures represent about one-sixth of all fractures. There is still no consensus on the treatment of this fracture. We have several issues to assess and address; one of them is the fixation method. We tried to compare the effectiveness of two methods of stabilisation of distal radial fracture. Comparison between the techniques of Kirschner wire (K-wire) fixation with plaster and K-wire fixation with external fixation (Ex-Fix) was undertaken to assess which treatment modality gives better results in patients with distal radius fracture Frykman VII and VIII with no metaphyseal comminution.

Method Fifty-six patients were chosen randomly and then allocated to two different modalities of stabilisation randomly as well, they were followed up; three of them were lost to follow-up because of death and two moved away from the area. Fifty-one patients were randomised in two groups: 24 were treated with K-wire and spanning Ex-Fix supplementation and 27 were treated with K-wires and plaster. Patients were prospectively monitored following the operation with a minimum follow-up of 1 year. Measurement of range of motion was obtained after surgery. Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) scores for pain and satisfaction levels were also recorded.

Results There was statistically significant difference in favour of the Ex-Fix patient group for pain (VAS, Ex-Fix group: mean 14.9; plaster group: mean 28.1) and satisfaction (Ex-Fix group: mean 89.7;plaster group: mean 76.3). Although one would expect that range of motion would be reduced in the Ex-Fix group, there were no statistically significant differences found, with the exception of supination where results were in favour of the Ex-Fix group (mean 54.4; plaster group: mean 45.2).

Conclusion In our study, xternal fixator (Ex-Fix) supplementation of K-wiring favoured patients with distal radius fracture, even though there was no metaphyseal comminution, and therefore is suggested in contrast to plaster supplementation.

  • hand & wrist
  • orthopaedic & trauma surgery

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  • Contributors GIB conceptualised the study and the study was done under his guidance. NA planned the study. The study was conducted and written by SMA and GA. SMA submitted the study.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.