FDA clears new implant to treat distal wrist fractures

February 13, 2013

Topic: orthopaedic fracture

Post-menopausal women who break their wrists may have experienced a decrease in physical strength.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently cleared the Conventus DRS Implant for the use of orthopaedic surgeons to treat distal radius fractures. The device is designed to be less invasive than other surgical treatments and increase the speed of recovery.

Distal radius fractures are when the end of the radius bone nearest to the wrist breaks. The injury is seen often by doctors, and the radius in particular is the most commonly broken bone in the arm, according to the American Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons. An individual who experiences this orthopaedic fracture may have symptoms that include immediate pain, tenderness, bruising and swelling. In addition, the wrist may look more angled than normal or hang awkwardly. Typically, a doctor will diagnose the break with an X-ray of the wrist.

A less-invasive option
The DRS Implant is self-expanding and stabilizes the fracture fragments from inside the bone. Perhaps the most significant benefit is that the technology only requires a two to three centimeter incision on the forearm and a few tiny holes at the wrist. This ultimately can decrease surgical trauma by 80 percent when compared to the traditional procedure in which a surgeon uses plates and screws to fix the break, and minimizes stiffness, swelling and pain following the surgery.

"The introduction of the Conventus DRS Implant will allow orthopedic surgeons to treat a broad range of distal radius fractures in a much less invasive manner without sacrificing stability of the repair," said Randip Bindra, M.D. "We are very eager to begin using this novel technology to improve patient care for this commonly occurring traumatic injury."

One in ten fracture affects the wrist
In the U.S., 10 percent of all broken bones is a broken wrist, according to WebMD. This injury is often caused when an individual falls onto an outstretched arm or gets hit on the wrist. It is also seen frequently among athletes who participate in contact sports, skiing, inline skating and biking. Older adults who have osteoporosis have an increased risk of experiencing orthopaedic fractures in general.

Individuals who sustain fractures should follow their doctors' recommendations on how to take care of the injured bone in order to prevent secondary injuries in the future. On average, it takes at least eight weeks for a distal wrist fracture to heal. 

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