Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology

Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology Cover Image
Open Access

Hybrid external fixation for neglected fractures of the distal radius: results after one year

Journal of Orthopaedics and TraumatologyOfficial Journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology20089:23

Received: 27 February 2008

Accepted: 28 June 2008

Published: 19 September 2008



External fixation is a well-established procedure for the treatment of unstable fractures of the distal radius, but its use is beset with complications. A plethora of theoretical and experimental data suggests that nonbridging fixators are superior for this setting. A new concept for the use of hybrid external fixation seemed reasonable and was applied for this study.

Materials and methods

We report on the first 14 cases of unstable, extraarticular fractures of the distal radius with a one-year follow-up and describe the operative technique. All were treated at 3- weeks after injury; nevertheless, closed reduction after the fixator elements were fixed to the bone was always possible.


We had no intraoperative complications, but in the follow-up period three cases of algodystrophy and one transient irritation of the ulnar nerve ensued. One case developed superficial infection at the K-wire entry site that resolved with local care and systemic antibiotics. No redisplacements were observed. Early and late (at one year) evaluation of results revealed good and very good anatomic results (Lidström system) and two satisfactory (cases with algodystrophy), eight very good and four good functional outcomes (Gartland–Werley system). The patients-acceptance of the device was high.


Hybrid external fixation of neglected distal radial fractures results in good outcomes if care is taken to prevent overdistraction of bone fragments.


Fracture of the distal radiusHybrid external fixation