Scientific article| Volume 45, ISSUE 2, P158.e1-158.e8, February 2020

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Outcomes and Complications Following Volar and Dorsal Osteotomy for Symptomatic Distal Radius Malunions: A Comparative Study

Published:August 14, 2019DOI:


      To compare patient-reported outcomes, functional outcomes, radiographic alignment, and complications of volar versus dorsal corrective osteotomies as the treatment for symptomatic distal radius malunions.


      We performed a retrospective review of all patients who underwent a distal radius corrective osteotomy with either a volar or dorsal approach and plating at 1 of 3 institutions between 2005 and 2017. Demographic data, type of surgical treatment, and radiographs were examined. Outcomes were Quick–Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (QuickDASH) function scores and radius union scoring system as well as major and minor complications.


      We included 53 cases (37 volar osteotomies and 16 dorsal osteotomies). Postoperative follow-up from the time of surgery to last QuickDASH score was 84.6 months (range, 12–169.4 months). Compared with the dorsal osteotomy group, the volar osteotomy group demonstrated a better postoperative flexion-extension arc (94.9° vs 72.9°, respectively), pronation-supination arc (146.2° vs 124.9°, respectively), and last QuickDASH scores (6.65 vs 12.87), respectively. Radiographically, there was no difference noted in radial height, radial inclination, or volar tilt in the immediate postoperative and last radiographs. There was a higher rate of complications in the dorsal osteotomy group (8 cases [50% of patients]) compared with the volar osteotomy group (7 cases [18.9% of patients]), including a higher rate of hardware removal.


      For patients with symptomatic malunions of the distal radius, the volar and dorsal approaches both resulted in improvement in QuickDASH scores and range of motion. Volar plating resulted in slightly better QuickDASH scores and fewer complications compared with dorsal plating.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Therapeutic IV.

      Key words

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