PURPOSE: To analyze the feasibility of combining computer-assisted 3-dimensional planning with patient-specific drill guides and to evaluate this technology's surgical outcomes for distal radius intra-articular malunions.
METHODS: Six symptomatic patients with intra-articular malunions of the distal radius with a stepoff of more than 2 mm were treated with an outside-in corrective osteotomy. The described cases consist of 2 malunited volar Barton fractures, 2 radial styloid fractures, 1 AO-type C1 fracture, and 1 die-punch fracture. The osteotomies were guided by 3-dimensionally generated aiming guides that allowed precise cutting and the reduction of up to 2 fragments. All 6 patients were examined clinically and radiologically after 1 year. The surgical outcomes were quantitatively analyzed by comparing the preoperative and postoperative computed tomographic data.
RESULTS: In all 6 cases, the osteotomies were consolidated 8 weeks postoperatively. After 1 year, 4 patients were pain-free, 1 had mild pain, and 1 experienced moderate pain during heavy work. Wrist motion and grip strength were improved in all patients. The postoperative radiographs showed no articular stepoff or degenerative changes.
CONCLUSIONS: Patient-specific aiming guides provided a reliable method to correct intra-articular malunions of the distal radius. This technique allows the surgeon to safely perform difficult intra-articular osteotomies and may help limit the need for salvage procedures such as partial or complete wrist arthrodesis.