Scientific Article|Articles in Press

Relationship Between Malunion and Short-Term Outcomes of Nonsurgical Treatment of Distal Radius Fractures in the Elderly: Differences Between Early- and Late-Geriatric Patients

Published:February 08, 2023DOI:


      Previous studies have suggested little association between radiographic malalignment and long-term functional outcomes of nonsurgical treatment of distal radius fractures in geriatric patients. However, no report has stratified the elderly by age and focused on short-term outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine how the relationship between malunion and patient outcomes differs between early- and late-geriatric patients in the short and long terms after injury, thereby informing explanations and decision-making on treatment options for geriatric patients with distal radius fractures.


      One hundred patients treated nonsurgically for distal radius fractures were evaluated retrospectively; 52 were defined as early-geriatric patients (aged 60–72 years) and 48 as late-geriatric (aged >77 years). Malunion (dorsal tilt > 10°, ulnar variance > 3 mm, or intra-articular displacement or step-off > 2 mm), range of motion, and grip strength were investigated at 3 months. Multiple regression analysis was performed for each age group using Quick-Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (QuickDASH) scores at 3 months as the dependent variable. QuickDASH scores over 1 year after injury were analyzed in the same way.


      The early-geriatric patients included 33 acceptable unions and 19 malunions. The late-geriatric patients included 12 acceptable unions and 26 malunions. The significant predictors of QuickDASH scores at 3 months were malunion for the early-geriatric group and grip strength for the late-geriatric group (standardized coefficient β, 0.31 and −0.49, respectively). No factor significantly predicted the QuickDASH scores after at least 1 year in either group.


      Malunion was associated with worse QuickDASH scores at 3 months after injury in the early-geriatric patients but not in the late-geriatric patients and did not predict the QuickDASH scores at 1 year after injury in either age group.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Prognostic IV.

      Key words

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