Editor's choice| Volume 44, ISSUE 11, P966-972, November 2019

Image-Based Comparison Between the Bilateral Symmetry of the Distal Radii Through Established Measures


      Anthropometric assessment of bony structures in the body is important for preoperative computer-aided surgery, implant design, finite element modeling, and biomechanical studies investigating joint structure and function. The use of the contralateral limb in surgery and clinical practice relies on the assumption that the right and left limbs of an individual are symmetric. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to quantify the bilateral symmetry of the bony structures of the distal radius using 3-dimensional (3D) computed tomography.


      We collected computed tomography images of 37 paired, fresh-frozen, healthy cadaveric male upper limbs (aged 75.4 ± 8.3 years). Three-dimensional reconstructed models were created using semiautomatic segmentation. Using the 3D models, we measured 3D radial inclination, 3D volar tilt, 3D radial height, medial volar cortical angle, middle volar cortical angle, and lateral volar cortical angle and compared them between sides.


      There were no statistically significant differences measured between right and left distal radius in 37 paired wrists. Mean radial height was 12.81 mm (SD, 1.74 mm) on the left and 12.88 mm (SD, 1.72 mm) on the right. Mean volar tilt was 10.74° (SD, 3.74°) and 10.77° (SD, 3.19°) and radial inclination was 24.05° (SD, 2.63°) and 24.18° (SD, 3.41°) on the left and right, respectively. Mean volar cortical angle across the radius was 140.9° (SD, 7.9°) on the left and 140.1° (SD, 7.9°) on the right.


      Direct bilateral comparison of the distal radius and wrist joints is useful to predict normal anatomy of the injured radius, because bilateral similarities exist.

      Clinical relevance

      This article provides a comprehensive list of measurements of the distal radius compared bilaterally using a 3D model. From this study, we found that the contralateral radius can be used as a benchmark with which to compare fracture reduction and to manage malunions during the preoperative planning of corrective osteotomies. It can also be used to define normal anatomy.

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