Wrist Fracture / Distal Radius Fracture Surgery

Several surgical options are available to treat a wrist fracture or distal radius fracture. The choice of procedure depends on the type of fracture, the patient’s lifestyle, and overall health status.

  1. Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF): During ORIF, a surgeon makes an incision over the fracture site, aligns the broken bones, and secures them with devices like screws and plates. This procedure allows for precise alignment and stabilisation of fractures.
  2. External Fixation: In an external fixation, pins or screws are inserted into the bone above and below the fracture site, connected by an external frame. This device holds the broken bones in the correct position while they heal.
  3. Percutaneous Pinning: This involves inserting wires through the skin to hold the bone fragments in place while they heal. The wires are removed once the fracture has sufficiently healed.

Expected Surgery Outcome

The primary goal of these surgeries is to restore the wrist’s functionality and alleviate pain. Albeit individual results may vary, most patients experience substantial relief and are able to regain their normal activity levels within weeks to months after surgery.

Wrist Fracture Surgery Before and After X-Rays

Before Surgery

After Surgery

Potential surgery complications and risks

Complications may include infection, damage to surrounding nerves and blood vessels, non-union or malunion of the fractured bone, and stiffness or loss of range of motion in the wrist.

Risks

  • Infection: All surgeries carry a risk of infection, which is mitigated through sterile techniques and antibiotics.
  • Nerve Damage: Nerves near the surgical site may be damaged during the procedure, leading to numbness or weakness in the hand.
  • Non-Union or Malunion: Despite surgery, the fractured bone may fail to heal properly (non-union) or heal in an incorrect alignment (malunion).
  • Stiffness: The wrist may become stiff post-surgery, impairing range of motion.

Recovery after surgery

Post-surgery, the wrist is typically immobilised with a cast or splint. Physiotherapy begins within a few weeks after surgery, initially focusing on gentle motion exercises and gradually progressing to strengthening exercises. The recovery timeline varies among individuals, but most patients can expect to resume normal activities within several weeks to months after surgery. Regular follow-up appointments with the surgeon are crucial to monitor recovery progress.