Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

What Are the Risk Factors and Complications Associated With Intraoperative and Postoperative Fractures in Total Wrist Arthroplasty?

Eric R. Wagner MD, MS, Jason J. Srnec MD, Kapil Mehrotra MD, Marco Rizzo MD



Total wrist arthroplasty (TWA) can relieve pain and preserve some wrist motion in patients with advanced wrist arthritis. However, few studies have evaluated the risks and outcomes associated with periprosthetic fractures around TWAs.


(1) What is the risk of intraoperative and postoperative fractures after TWAs? (2) What factors are associated with increased risk of intraoperative and postoperative fracture after TWAs? (3) What is the fracture-free and revision-free survivorship of TWAs among patients who sustained an intraoperative fracture during the index TWA?


At one institution during a 40-year period, 445 patients underwent primary TWAs. Of those, 15 patients died before 2 years and 5 were lost to followup, leaving 425 patients who underwent primary TWAs with a minimum of 2-year followup. The primary diagnosis for the TWA included osteoarthritis ([OA] 5%), inflammatory arthritis (90%), and posttraumatic arthritis (5%). Indications for TWA included pancarpal arthritis combined with marked pain and loss of wrist function. The mean age of the patients was 57 years, BMI was 26 kg/m, and 73% were females. Six different implants were used during the 40-year period. Mean followup was 10 years (range, 2–18 years).


Intraoperative fractures occurred in nine (2%) primary TWAs, while postoperative fractures occurred after eight (2%) TWAs. After analyzing demographics, comorbidities, and surgical factors, intraoperative fractures were found to be associated with only age at surgery (hazard ratio [HR], 1.10; 95% CI, 1.03–1.20; p = 0.006) and use of a bone graft (HR, 5.80; 95% CI, 1.18–23.08; p = 0.03). No factors were found to be associated with increased risk of postoperative fractures; specifically, intraoperative fracture was not associated with subsequent fracture development. The 5-, 10-, and 15-year Kaplan–Meier survival rates free of postoperative fracture were 99%, 98%, and 95%, respectively. The 5- and 10-year revision-free survival rates after intraoperative fracture were 88% and 88%, respectively, compared with 84% and 74% without an intraoperative fracture (p = 0.36). Furthermore, the survival-free of revision surgery rates for aseptic distal loosening at 5 and 10 years were 88% and 88%, respectively, compared with 93% and 87% without a fracture (p = 0.85).


Intraoperative fractures occur in approximately 2% of TWAs. These fractures do not appear to affect long-term implant survival or risk of fracture. Patient age and the need for bone graft were the only factors in the risk of intraoperative fractures. Postoperative fractures also occur in 2% of TWAs, but often result in revision surgery.

Level of Evidence

Level III, therapeutic study.

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