Comparison of dorsal and volar approaches to the proximal radius

Jessica D. Cross, Jeffery A. White, Anthony E. Johnson, James A. Blair, Joseph R. Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Proximal radius exposure may be acquired by either the dorsal or volar approach depending on surgical requirements. The dorsal approach is traditionally recommended for fracture fixation of the proximal radius because of theoretically improved exposure and because the dorsal aspect of the bone is the tensile surface. The posterior interosseous nerve can be visualized and protected approach. The volar approach is preferred for biceps repair and boasts a distal extensile approach with adequate soft tissue coverage. Impingement on the bicipital tuberosity and biceps tendon, in addition to positioning on the compression side of the bone, makes the anterior or anterolateral position for plate placement less desirable. The goal of this study was to quantify and compare in a cadaver model the area of bone exposed using both approaches. We hypothesized that equivalent exposures can be obtained and the posterior interosseous nerve can be identified with either the Thompson or Henry approach. Standard dorsal and volar approaches were performed on 10 fresh-frozen adult cadaveric upper-limb specimens. Cross-sectional area of exposure was quantified from digital photographs using software. The 2 approaches did not result in a difference in area exposed. Depending on case requirements, either the dorsal or volar approach will provide adequate exposure to the proximal radius.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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