Purpose Forearm diaphysis fractures are usually managed by open reduction internal fixation. Recently, locking plates have been used for treatment. In the long-term period after surgery, some patients present with bone atrophy adjacent to the plate. However, a comparison of locking and conventional plates as a cause of atrophy has not been reported. The aim of this study was to investigate long-term bone atrophy associated with use of locking and conventional plates for forearm fracture treatment. Methods In this study we included 15 patients with forearm fracture managed by either locking or conventional plates and with more than 5 years of follow-up. Computed tomographic imaging of both forearms was performed to assess bone thickness and local bone mineral density and to predict bone strength without plate reinforcement based on finite element analysis. Results Mean patient age at surgery was 48.0 years. Eight patients underwent reduction with fixed locking plates and were followed up for a mean of 79.5 months; the remaining 7 patients were treated with conventional plates and were followed up for a mean of 105.0 months. Compared with the conventional plate group, the locking plate group had the same fractured limb–contralateral limb ratio of cortex bone thickness, but had significantly lower ratios of mineral density adjacent to the plate and adjusted bone strength. Conclusions This study demonstrated bone atrophy after locking plate fixation for forearm fractures. Treatment plans for forearm fracture should take into consideration the impact of bone atrophy long after plate fixation. Type of study/level of evidence Therapeutic IV.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine