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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Early prognostic factors in distal radius fractures in a younger than osteoporotic age group: a multivariate analysis of trauma radiographs

Annechien Beumer1*, Catharina Adlercreutz2 and Tommy R Lindau3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedics, Amphia Hospital, Breda, The Netherlands

2 Department of Radiology Lund, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden

3 Pulvertaft Hand Centre, Derby, UK

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:170  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-170

Published: 22 May 2013



Treatment of distal radius fractures in patients of a younger than osteoporotic age is complex, because they often are the result of a high-energy trauma and have intra-articular fractures and associated injuries. As yet no fracture classification exists that predicts outcome. Our aim was to find the earliest possible prognostic factor by testing which radiological parameter on the trauma radiograph would have the greatest impact on clinical outcome in a younger than osteoporotic age group.


We assessed 66 patients (34 F) with unilateral fractures of the distal radius from a non-Osteoporotic age group. The median age was 42 years, (10th -90th percentile 20–54). Pre-reduction antero-posterior and lateral wrist radiographs were obtained and fracture pattern, radiocarpal joint surface tilt, radial length, radial inclination and ulnar variance were measured. Clinical outcome was assessed with the subjective part as well as the complete modified Gartland and Werley score. Multivariate analysis of those parameters was performed to assess which radiological parameter would best predict outcome.


It was found that post-traumatic ulna + (>2 mm) was the single factor that significantly correlated with a bad outcome. An intra-articular fracture pattern may also be a strong marker; however this was not statistically significant (RR 95% conf interval 0.94 – 20.59).


The present study showed that post-traumatic ulna + is the most important factor in predicting bad outcome in non-osteoporotic patients, but that especially intra-articular fractures and to a lesser extent dorsal tilt may be of importance too.

Ddistal radius fracture; Prognostic factor; Radiology; Outcome