Preoperative Computed Tomography Scan in Distal Radius Fractures and the Effect on Preoperative Planning

Adam L. Haydel, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans
Ryan C. Roubion, Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center
Cristina T. Graphia, The University of Chicago
Corinne E. Cloud, Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Claudia Leonardi, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans
Christopher E. Marrero, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans


Purpose: It is unclear whether computed tomography (CT) scans alter the surgical plan when ordered before surgery for fixation of intra-articular distal radius fractures (DRFs). The purpose of this study was to determine whether a preoperative CT scan alters the planned approach (PA) or planned fixation strategy (PFS) for open reduction internal fixation of intra-articular DRFs. Methods: Radiology records were retrospectively reviewed by one trauma surgeon and two hand surgeons for 33 intra-articular DRFs that met the inclusion criteria and previously underwent open reduction internal fixation. Surgeons were initially provided only preoperative radiographs; they were asked for their PA and PFS. Three months later, each surgeon was provided with the same preoperative radiographs as well as a CT scan. They were asked for their PA and PFS and to grade the usefulness of CT for each fracture. Results: The overall probability of having the same PA and PFS between the two presentations was 70.6% and 70.9%, respectively. There was a significant difference in opinion on the usefulness of the CT scan among the surgeons (P < .001). Conclusions: This study suggests that ordering a CT scan for preoperative planning of open reduction internal fixation for an intra-articular DRF does not affect the approach or fixation strategy in the majority of cases, regardless of how useful a CT scan was determined to be by the surgeon. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.