Background: Last decades there is an increased tendency of performing surgery on displaced distal radius fractures. However, it is unclear whether this affects the development of osteoarthritis. This study aims to determine the relation between anatomical position, radiological osteoarthritis and functional outcome of the elderly wrist, 10–15 years after a distal radius fracture. Patients and methods: 173 patients between the age of 50 and 70 at time of trauma were included in this retrospective cohort study with a 10–15-year follow-up. Based on the reassessed initial X-rays, the patients were placed into 4 groups (1: anatomical, 2a: acceptable, 2b: current operative indication but treated conservative, 2c: operative indication and operated). Functional outcome was measured, questionnaires were answered, and new bilateral X-rays of the wrist were obtained. Factors influencing osteoarthritis, the difference in osteoarthritis between the groups and the difference between the fractured and non-fractured wrists were studied. Results: Group 2b showed a significantly higher degree of osteoarthritis in comparison with the contralateral wrist. In the other groups, this difference was not observed. We found no significant difference in OA and functional outcomes between the groups. The degree of osteoarthritis of the non-fractured wrist appeared to be highly associated with osteoarthritis of the fractured wrist. Conclusion: The results of this study showed that the degree of radiocarpal osteoarthritis is higher in conservatively treated patients that should have been operated on according to current guidelines in comparison with patients without an indication for surgery. This might suggest that our current guidelines can be effective in prevention of posttraumatic osteoarthritis. However, the effect on the functional outcome is very limited. Since the degree of radiocarpal osteoarthritis of the non-fractured wrist appeared to be highly associated with the degree of osteoarthritis of the fractured wrist, future studies should always assess osteoarthritis of both wrists in order to study the real posttraumatic effect of a fracture.

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Keywords Distal radius fracture, Functional outcome, Malunion, Osteoarthritis, Radiocarpal, Radiological outcome, Wrist
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Journal European Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology
Visser, D. (D.), Mathijssen, N.M.C, van Outeren, M.V. (M. V.), Colaris, J.W, de Vries, M.R, & Kraan, G.A. (2020). Long-term follow-up of distal radius fractures, an evaluation of the current guideline: the relation between malunion, osteoarthritis and functional outcome. European Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology. doi:10.1007/s00590-020-02700-8