Background: This study assessed the risk and factors of complications after volar locking plate fixation of distal radius fractures. Methods: A single-institution retrospective review of patients undergoing volar locking plate fixation of distal radius fractures between May of 2000 and May of 2015 was undertaken. Demographic data, major complications, minor complications, and radiographic parameters were evaluated. Results: Six hundred forty-seven distal radius fractures managed with volar plate fixation in 636 patients were reviewed. Mean follow-up was 9.1 months. Mean age was 56.5 years. Mean body mass index was 28.0, and 14.6 percent of patients had a body mass index greater than 35. Fractures were classified as Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen class 23-C (67.2 percent), 23-A (26.6 percent), and 23-B (6.2 percent). The incidence of major and minor complications was 13.8 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively. The most common complication was transient paresthesia (9.7 percent). The incidence of tendon rupture or irritation was 0.5 percent or 2.5 percent, respectively. Hardware removal for painful/symptomatic hardware occurred in 6.2 percent at an average of 427.8 days after surgery. Major complications and minor complications were increased 2.2- and 1.9-fold, respectively, in patients with a body mass index greater than 35. Major complications were also increased 3.19 times in patients with residual intraarticular step-off. Hardware removal was 3.3 times more likely in patients with Soong grade 2 plate prominence and 2.9 times more likely in patients with a history of diabetes mellitus. Conclusions: Volar plate osteosynthesis of distal radius fractures is associated with an overall low complication rate. Patient factors, including diabetes mellitus and obesity, and intraoperative factors, including intraarticular fracture alignment and plate prominence, were associated with a higher rate of complications or revision surgery.
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