Background — Rates of surgical management of distal radius fractures are increasing internationally despite the higher cost and limited outcome evidence to support this shift. This study examines the epidemiology of distal radius fractures and asks if the same shift has occurred in Ontario, Canada (population 13.9 million).
Methods — This population-based, retrospective cohort study examined distal radius fractures in people aged 18 years and older over a 10-year period (2004–2013). The incidence analyses were based on the first occurrence of a fracture within a 2-year time period. The number of fractures, age-adjusted incidence rates and frequency of fracture treatment type by year were assessed. We used a Poisson regression with robust standard errors to determine if there was a statistically significant change in the frequency of fracture treatment type over time.
Results — There were 25 355 distal radius fractures among Ontarians 18 years of age and older in 2013. Between 2004 and 2013, the age-adjusted incidence rate for people 35 years of age and older was stable, between 2.32 and 2.70 per 1000 population. Rates of cast immobilization remained stable between 82% and 84%. Of those patients treated surgically, the rate of open reduction and internal fixation rose from 7% in 2004 to 13% in 2013 at the expense of other types of surgical management.
Conclusion — In Ontario, rates of cast immobilization are stable and there has been a movement toward open reduction and internal fixation among patients treated surgically.
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