Is Bone Grafting Necessary in the Treatment of Malunited Distal Radius Fractures?

D.J. Disseldorp*, M. Poeze, P.F. Hannemann, P.R.G. Brink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Open wedge osteotomy with bone grafting and plate fixation is the standard procedure for the correction of malunited distal radius fractures. Bone grafts are used to increase structural stability and to enhance new bone formation. However, bone grafts are also associated with donor site morbidity, delayed union at bone-graft interfaces, size mismatch between graft and osteotomy defect, and additional operation time. Purpose The goal of this study was to assess bone healing and secondary fracture displacement in the treatment of malunited distal radius fractures without the use of bone grafting. Methods Between January 1993 and December 2013, 132 corrective osteotomies and plate fixations without bone grafting were performed for malunited distal radius fractures. The minimum follow-up time was 12 months. Primary study outcomes were time to complete bone healing and secondary fracture displacement. Preoperative and postoperative radiographs during follow-up were compared with each other, as well as with radiographs of the uninjured side. Results All 132 osteotomies healed. In two cases (1.5%), healing took more than 4 months, but reinterventions were not necessary. No cases of secondary fracture displacement or hardware failure were observed. Significant improvements in all radiographic parameters were shown after corrective osteotomy and plate fixation. Conclusion This study shows that bone grafts are not required for bone healing and prevention of secondary fracture displacement after corrective osteotomy and plate fixation of malunited distal radius fractures. Level of evidence Therapeutic, level IV, case series with no comparison group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Wrist Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • malunited distal radius fractures
  • corrective osteotomy and plate fixation
  • bone grafts
  • bone healing
  • secondary fracture displacement

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