Biomechanical Evaluation of Distal Radioulnar Joint Instability and Adams Procedure


      Distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) instability may occur after an injury, resulting in pain and reduced strength. When primary repair is not possible or initial fixation has failed, chronic instability may result, requiring a reconstructive procedure such as the Adams procedure. The first purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of the triangular fibrocartilage complex and various components of the interosseous membrane as they were sectioned. The second purpose was to evaluate the Adams procedure in stabilizing the forearm.


      Eight fresh cadaver forearms were dynamically moved through an average range of 56.8° pronation to 54.8° supination and tested first with the forearm intact and then after sectioning each of the following structures: the dorsal (DRUL) and palmar radioulnar ligaments (PRUL), the distal interosseous membrane, and the central band. Finally, they were tested after reconstruction using the Adams procedure. During each forearm motion and provocative shuck, the motion of the radius and ulna were measured and the locations of the radial attachments of the DRUL, PRUL, and sigmoid notch and ulnar fovea were computed.


      Significant increases in the gap between the ulnar fovea and the attachment sites of the DRUL and PRUL were observed with incremental sectioning, most notably after sectioning of the central band. Reconstruction significantly reduced the gap at the DRUL and PRUL sites during dynamic motion.


      This study reinforces the concept that DRUJ stability depends on more than the radioulnar ligaments, ulnocarpal ligaments, and triangular fibrocartilage complex, but is also significantly affected by the distal and central interosseous membrane. Reconstruction reduces gapping.

      Clinical relevance

      These results suggest that the Adams reconstruction is a reasonable option to address DRUJ instability but may be an incomplete solution in the setting of a ruptured interosseous ligament.

      Key words

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