It is currently unclear whether the additional effort to perform an intraoperative computed tomography (CT) scan is justified for articular distal radius fractures (DRFs). The purpose of this study was to assess radiological, functional, and clinical outcomes after surgical treatment of distal radius fractures when using conventional fluoroscopy vs. intraoperative CT scans.
Inclusion criteria: Surgical treatment of DRF between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2011, age 18 and above. Group distribution: intraoperative conventional fluoroscopy (Group Conv) or intraoperative CT scans (Group CT).
Use of different image intensifier devices or incomplete data. DRF classification according to the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (AO) classification. Outcome variables included requirement of revision surgeries, duration of surgery, absorbed radiation dose, and requirement of additional CT scans during hospitalization.
A total of 187 patients were included (Group Conv n = 96 (51.3%), Group CT n = 91 (48.7%)). AO Classification: Type A fractures n = 40 (50%) in Group Conv vs. n = 16 (17.6%) in Group CT, p < 0.001; Type B: 10 (10.4%) vs. 11 (12.1%), not significant (n.s.); Type C: 38 (39.6%) vs. 64 (70.3%), p < 0.001. In Group Conv, four (4.2%) patients required revision surgeries within 6 months, but in Group CT no revision surgery was required. The CT scan led to an intraoperative screw exchange/reposition in 23 (25.3%) cases. The duration of the initial surgery (81.7 ± 46.4 min vs. 90.1 ± 43.6 min, n.s.) was comparable. The radiation dose was significantly higher in Group CT (6.9 ± 1.3 vs. 2.8 ± 7.8 mGy, p < 0.001). In Group Conv, 11 (11.5%) patients required additional CT scans during hospitalization.
The usage of intraoperative CT was associated with improved reduction and more adequate positioning of screws postoperatively with comparable durations of surgery. Despite increased efforts by utilizing the intraoperative CT scan, the decrease in reoperations may justify its use.