EFORT Open Rev. 2022 Sep 19;7(9):644-652. doi: 10.1530/EOR-22-0022.
INTRODUCTION: The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate whether volar locking plate (VLP) fixation leads to better clinical and radiological outcomes than those of closed reduction and cast immobilization for the treatment of distal radius fractures (DRFs).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A comprehensive literature search was performed in PubMed, Web of Science, and Cochrane databases up to January 2022. Inclusion criteria included randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies comparing VLP fixation with cast immobilization for DRFs. Investigated parameters were Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation questionnaire, Disabilities of the Harm, Shoulder, and Hand score (DASH), range of motion (ROM), grip strength, quality of life (QoL), radiological outcome, and complication and reoperation rate, both at short- and mid-/long-term follow-up. Assessment of risk of bias and quality of evidence was performed with Downs and Black’s ‘Checklist for Measuring Quality’.
RESULTS: A total of 12 RCTs (1368 patients) were included. No difference was found for ROM, grip strength, QoL, and reoperation, while the DASH at 3 months was statistically better in the VLP group (P < 0.05). No clinical differences were confirmed at longer follow-up. From a radiological perspective, only radial inclination (4°) and ulnar variance (mean difference 1.1 mm) at >3 months reached statistical significance in favor of the VLP group (both P < 0.05). Fewer complications were found in the VLP group (P < 0.05), but they did not result in different reintervention rates.
CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis showed that the surgical approach leads to a better clinical outcome in the first months, better fracture alignment, and lower complication rate. However, no differences in the clinical outcomes have been confirmed after 3 months. Overall, these findings suggest operative treatment for people with higher functional demand requiring a faster recovery, while they support the benefit of a more conservative approach in less demanding patients.