Complications and outcome of four-corner arthrodesis: circular plate fixation versus traditional techniques.

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PURPOSE: To review the clinical and radiographic results of scaphoid excision and four-corner arthrodesis using a circular plate and screws compared with traditional fusion techniques (wires, staples, screws).

METHODS: Fifty-eight patients with four-corner arthrodesis (plate fixation, n = 27; traditional fixation, n = 31) were evaluated for radiographic and clinical success using wrist radiographs and functional assays. Patients were subjectively surveyed using the standardized Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire and classification scales for pain and satisfaction. Objective measurements included grip-strength and range-of-motion measurements.

RESULTS: Radiographic analysis showed 26% nonunion with loose hardware in the plate group compared with 3% in the traditional group and 22% hardware impingement in the plate group compared with 3% in the traditional group. Clinical evaluation yielded a mean grip strength of 31 kg (70% of opposite side) for plate fixation and 33 kg (79% of opposite side) for traditional fixation. The mean flexion-extension arc was 48% and 50% of the opposite wrist for plate and traditional patients, respectively. The mean adjusted Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire scores were 27 out of 100 for plate patients and 8 out of 100 for traditional patients. Pain classification scores showed that only 2 patients in the plate group were pain free whereas there were 8 patients in the traditional group who were pain free. Overall patient satisfaction was 60% for the plate group whereas the traditional patient group reported 100% satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS: The rate of major complications (nonunion or impingement) was much greater with circular plate fixation (48%) versus traditional fixation techniques (6%). With the plate procedure the grip strength and arc of motion decreased approximately 30% and 52%, respectively, compared with decreases of 21% and 50%, respectively, for traditional fusion methods. Additionally, subjective patient dissatisfaction was 40% in the plate group compared with 0% in the traditional group. We postulate that the increased complication and dissatisfaction rates associated with plate fixation may be attributable to possible biomechanical imperfections or increased technical demands with this fusion system.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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