Stabilization for acute distal radioulnar instability: A novel surgical technique
Samuel Pajares 1 , Natalia Martínez-Catalán 2 , Ulrike Novo-Rivas 3
Introduction: Instability of the distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) commonly results from traumatic disruption of the distal radioulnar ligaments of the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC). Treatment of this rupture typically requires immobilization of the wrist and elbow for a period of 6 to 8 weeks. This study evaluated the hypothesis that treatment of DRUJ instability with dynamic stabilization would allow early mobilization of both the radiocarpal and distal radioulnar joints by the first postoperative week without compromising restoration of TFCC integrity.
Materials and methods: Between September 2017 and January 2019, a retrospective study was conducted on 22 patients presenting with DRUJ instability confirmed by intraoperative Ballottement testing. Once instability was confirmed, dynamic surgical stabilization was performed, followed by one week of short cast immobilization. Arthrographic computed tomography (CT) of each patients' affected wrist was performed 4 months later to evaluate TFCC integrity.
The recovery of patients was monitored at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery using the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire, Ballottement test, and evaluation of radioulnar join range of motion (ROM), pain, and complications.
Results: All patients were followed postoperatively for a mean of 13.5 months. After 1 month, all patients exhibited satisfactory range of motion and DRUJ stability. By 3 months, Ballottement tests were negative in 21 of 22 patients, with instability persisting in only 1 patient. At 4 months, CT arthrography contrast leakage (indicative of a TFCC tear) was observed in 5 of 20 patients. Upon reexamination a mean of 10.5 months later, the TFCC tears of these patients had healed in 2 cases (with foveal tears), while no difference in contrast leakage was observed for the other 3 cases (with horizontal or central tears). Revision surgery for implant related complications was performed in 2 cases.
Conclusion: Acute DRUJ instability treated with dynamic stabilization led to satisfactory clinical outcomes in terms of range of motion, pain relief and joint stability, allowing DRUJ movement from the first postoperative week. This technique represents a simple, reproducible and minimally invasive procedure with a low rate of implant related complications.