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Traumatic Nondissociative Carpal Instability: A Case Series

      Purpose

      We report 8 cases of acute or subacute unilateral nondissociative carpal instability (CIND) in the context of nondisplaced scaphoid fractures.

      Methods

      Eight patients from 3 centers developed abnormal volar intercalated segment instability (VISI) or dorsal intercalated segment instability (DISI) following the diagnosis of a nondisplaced scaphoid fracture. An operative inspection in each patient confirmed intact scapholunate and lunotriquetral interosseous ligaments. We outline the demographic characteristics of our patient cohort, radiologic and operative findings of CIND-DISI and CIND-VISI, and the outcomes of acute and delayed treatment.

      Results

      Two patients were diagnosed with CIND-DISI and 6 with CIND-VISI associated with ipsilateral nondisplaced scaphoid fractures. The average time from injury to diagnosis of CIND was 11 weeks, and the mean clinical and radiographic follow-up was 18 months. Rapid healing of the scaphoid fractures was achieved in all patients (4 open reduction internal fixation, 4 cast). All patients underwent surgery to improve proximal carpal row alignment: in 3 of the 4 patients who were diagnosed and treated surgically within 12 weeks of injury, the radiolunate angle (RLA) was successfully restored. A contracture release and ligament repair or reconstruction with tendon graft 12 or more weeks following injury was unsuccessful in restoring proximal row alignment in all 4 patients. Two patients in the delayed treatment group required secondary surgery for partial fusion.

      Conclusions

      Based on the arthroscopic, imaging, and operative findings, we propose that the ligamentous restraints to CIND-VISI are dorsal at the radiocarpal joint and volar at the midcarpal joint. Conversely, the ligamentous restraints to CIND-DISI are dorsal at the midcarpal joint and volar at both the radiocarpal and midcarpal joints. In our series, a delayed diagnosis and late reconstructive surgery were associated with no improvement in RLA. We recommend early recognition of traumatic CIND and prompt treatment of injured ligaments prior to the development of a fixed deformity.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Therapeutic V.

      Key words

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