Distal radius fractures, also known as broken wrists, are common injuries seen after a fall or contusion to the wrist. The distal radius is the largest bone in the wrist and can break if the force is great enough, causing the patient to experience pain and swelling. Some distal radius fractures can be treated with immobilization in a cast. If the fracture is displaced or involves the joint surface, however, the fracture may benefit from surgical fixation.
Surgery is typically performed under a regional anesthetic, which renders the arm numb but negates the need for general anesthesia. One or more incisions are made at the wrist and the broken pieces of the distal radius are placed in the correct position. The pieces are then held together using metal plates and screws. Occasionally bone grafting is required.
This surgery is done at our ambulatory surgery center. Patients go home the same day and usually start range of motion exercises and hand therapy shortly after surgery.