Purpose: Patients with symptomatic instability of the distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) after traumatic complete disruption of the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFC) are best treated by anatomic reconstruction of the TFC. Postoperative clinical results from the literature are known but the improvement of DRUJ instability remains still challenging to quantify. We recently published a reliable and validated method to measure the instability of the DRUJ. This sonographic method was used to quantify the pre- and postoperative instability in correlation with clinical outcome in patients with complete TFC disruption.
Methods: 11 patients with complete disruption of the TFC resulting in symptomatic instability of the DRUJ underwent open reconstruction of the TFC. The instability was measured with sonography preoperatively and one year postoperatively including the Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation score (PRWE Score).
Results: By subjective measurement, 9 patients showed comparable stability to the contralateral side. By objective measurements, DRUJ stability was completely restored in 6 patients. Seven patients had a very good and good clinical outcome. The dorsovolar shift (preoperative mean 5.2mm, min 2.4, max 7.1; postoperative 3.6mm, min 1.2, max 6.2) was significantly decreased (p < 0.05) and was postoperatively not different to the contralateral healthy side (p > 0.1). PRWE score in the 1 year follow up was 13.8. Three patients remained with significant pain, sonographically two of them were still more lax and one tighter compared to the contralateral side.
Conclusions: The sonographic measurement technique allows evaluation of the stability pre- and postoperatively and does not always correlate with the qualitative clinical assessment. The described operation technique is effective for treatment of irreplaceable TFC ruptures and significantly improves the DRUJ stability and wrist function one year after surgery, which could be quantified objectively by ultrasound.