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Open Access Case report

Pathologic fracture of the distal radius in a 25-year-old patient with a large unicameral bone cyst

Felix Massen*, Sebastian Baumbach, Elias Volkmer, Wolf Mutschler and Stefan Grote

Author Affiliations

Department of Trauma Surgery, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Nussbaumstrasse 20, 80336 Munich, Germany

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:202  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-202

Published: 13 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Distal radius fractures (DRF) are often referred to as osteoporosis indicator fractures as their incidence increases from age 45. In the group of young adults, distal radius fractures normally result from high-energy trauma. Wrist fractures in young patients without adequate trauma thus raise suspicion of a pathologic fracture. In this report we present the case of a fractured unicameral bone cyst (UBC) at the distal radius in a young adult.

To the author’s best knowledge, this is the first detailed report in an UBC at the distal radius causing a pathologic DRF in an adult patient.

Case presentation

A 25-year-old otherwise healthy male presented to our Emergency Department after a simple fall on his right outstretched hand. Extended diagnostics revealed a pathologic, dorsally displaced, intra-articular distal radius fracture secondary to a unicameral bone cyst occupying almost the whole metaphysis of the distal radius. To stabilize the fracture, a combined dorsal and volar approach was used for open reduction and internal fixation. A tissue specimen for histopathological examination was gathered and the lesion was filled with an autologous bone graft harvested from the ipsilateral femur using a reamer-irrigator-aspirator (RIA) system. Following one revision surgery due to an intra-articular step-off, the patient recovered without further complications.

Conclusions

Pathologic fractures in young patients caused by unicameral bone cysts require extended diagnostics and adequate treatment. A single step surgical treatment is reasonable if fracture and bone cyst are treated appropriately. Arthroscopically assisted fracture repair may be considered in intra-articular fractures or whenever co-pathologies of the carpus are suspected.

Keywords:
Distal radius fracture; Pathological fracture; Unicameral bone cyst; Fallen fragment sign; Operative treatment; Arthroscopic reduction; Bone graft; RIA