Absolute fracture stability, achieved by interfragmentary compression, results in direct bone healing.Axial compression
Depending on the procedure chosen, the plate will be applied to either the anterior or posterior surface of the radius.
In the following example, we illustrate the plate applied to the posterior surface.
For proximal radial shaft fractures, the anterior approach (Henry) is most often used to minimize the risk of damage to the posterior interosseous nerve, which crosses the proximal radius within the supinator muscle.
In mid and distal radial shaft fractures, either the anterior approach (Henry) or posterolateral approach (Thompson) can be used, depending on surgeon’s preference.
Reduce the fracture anatomically, using a reduction forceps on each main fragment. The use of blunt, as opposed to pointed, reduction forceps can be helpful, particularly if greater forces are required.
A reduced transverse fracture can not be maintained with reduction forceps alone. However, transverse fractures are usually dentate and are intrinsically stable after anatomical reduction.
If not, fix the plate to one fragment and then reduce the other fragment onto the plate.
In order to maintain the reduction, using the same independent screw, preliminary axial compression can then be obtained by pulling the plate end towards the screw with a small Verbrugge clamp.
The holes of the plate are shaped like an angled cylinder. The spherical undersurface of the screw head slides down the inclined cylinder as the screw is tightened.
The horizontal movement of the head, as it impacts against the angled side of the hole, results in movement of the bone fragment relative to the plate, and leads to compression of the fracture.
After the plate has been contoured anatomically to the reduced bone surface, prebend it with the handheld bending pliers, or a pair of bending irons, as explained in the principles section.
The prebent plate is fixed to one of the main fragments with a screw in neutral mode. A reduction forceps is placed on the opposite fragment to hold it in the reduced position against the plate.Note: Because of the design of the LC-DCP holes, the neutral drill guides for the LC-DCP have a very slightly eccentric hole and an arrow, which needs always to point towards the fracture line.
A second screw is inserted eccentrically (yellow drill sleeve) into the opposite fragment.
Note: the arrow on the drill sleeve has to point towards the fracture line.
By tightening the eccentrically-inserted screw, axial compression is achieved.
For inserting screws into the limited contact dynamic compression plate (LC-DCP), the Universal Drill Guide can be used as well. When this drill guide is pressed into the plate hole, the screw position will be neutral (A). When it is held against the end of the plate hole, without exerting downward pressure, the screw position will be eccentric (B).
All other screws are inserted in a neutral position (green drill sleeve) and do not serve further to increase compression.
Check the completed osteosynthesis by image intensification. Make sure that the plate is at a proper location, the screws are of appropriate length and a desired reduction was achieved.
The elbow should be stabilized at the epicondyles and the forearm rotation should be checked between the radial and ulnar styloids.
Before starting the operation the uninjured side should be tested as a reference for the injured side.
After fixation, the distal radioulnar joint should be assessed for forearm rotation, as well as for stability. The forearm should be rotated completely to make certain there is no anatomical block.
The elbow is flexed 90° on the arm table and displacement in dorsal palmar direction is tested in a neutral rotation of the forearm with the wrist in neutral position.
This is repeated with the wrist in radial deviation, which stabilizes the DRUJ, if the ulnar collateral complex (TFCC) is not disrupted.
This is repeated with the wrist in full supination and full pronation.
In order to test the stability of the distal radioulnar joint, the ulna is compressed against the radius...
...while the forearm is passively put through full supination...
If there is a palpable “clunk”, then instability of the distal radioulnar joint should be considered. This would be an indication for internal fixation of an ulnar styloid fracture at its base. If the fracture is at the tip of the ulnar styloid consider TFCC stabilization.