Cause of Extensor Pollicis Longus Ruptures After Distal Radius Fracture Fixation Using a Volar Plate

Charlotte L. E. Laane*, Anjuli L. Dijkmans, Chelsea J. Messinger, Mathieu M. E. Wijffels, Abhiram R. Bhashyam, Neal C. Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: This research sought to analyze a cohort of patients with extensor pollicis longus (EPL) ruptures after volar locked plating of a distal radius fracture (DRF) to characterize the incidence of ruptures that are unlikely to be related to dorsal screw prominence.Methods: This is a retrospective, observational, descriptive cohort study of adults with operative fixation of a closed DRF and an EPL rupture between 2002 and 2022. Eighteen patients with operative fixation using a volar plate of a closed DRF had an EPL rupture. The cohort consisted of 66% women with an average age of 57.5 years. Median follow-up was 14.5 months.Results: The incidence of EPL rupture was 0.4% (18/4768). The average time from DRF and DRF fixation to EPL rupture was 3.7 and 3.4 months, respectively. Based on the operative record, in 2 of the 18 patients (11%), the rupture was directly attributable to prominent hardware; however, in 4 of the 18 patients (22%), the rupture was not related to prominent hardware, and the cause was indeterminate in 12 patients (67%). Radiologic analysis of those in the indeterminate group demonstrated that 5 of the 12 patients had screws that had a high probability of being prominent.Conclusions: The incidence of EPL rupture after volar plating of DRF is between 0% and 1% and usually occurs about 3 months after fixation. Approximately 50% of EPL ruptures are attributable to prominent dorsal screws. Although screw prominence is an important cause of EPL rupture, it is not the sole cause of rupture.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Early online date29 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Feb 2024

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