Editor's Choice| Volume 47, ISSUE 5, P437-443, May 2022

Load-Bearing Radioulnar Distances to Evaluate an Unstable Distal Radioulnar Joint in Patients With Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Tears

Published:March 02, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsa.2022.01.008


      Tears of the proximal component of the triangular fibrocartilage complex (pc-TFCC) lead to instability in the distal radioulnar joint. The aim of this study was to measure the load-bearing radioulnar distances (RaUls) and to evaluate its diagnostic suitability in patients with pc-TFCC tears.


      We retrospectively assessed and compared the lateral wrist radiographs of 61 adult patients with arthroscopically confirmed tears of pc-TFCC with those of a control group of 64 healthy participants. The RaUl was measured on lateral radiographs, and the difference in RaUl (D-value) between load-bearing and nonloading conditions was calculated in the 2 groups. Receiver operator characteristic curves were plotted to determine the diagnostic accuracy and optimal cutoff-score of load-bearing RaUl and RaUl D-value. The diagnostic performance was verified in a validation sample of patients (30 wrists) with pc-TFCC tears and a control group of healthy individuals (30 wrists).


      In the training sample, load-bearing RaUls of the affected wrists were higher than the same side of the controls (12.0 mm vs 7.1 mm). The TFCC-injury group showed a significantly higher RaUl D-value than the control group (8.5 mm vs 3.4 mm). Using a receiver operator characteristic curve, the cutoff value of load-bearing RaUl was 10 mm (sensitivity = 97.6%, specificity = 85.7%) and that of RaUl D-value was 6.5 mm (sensitivity = 90.2%, specificity = 78.5%). The areas under the curve of load-bearing RaUl and RaUl D-value were 0.96 and 0.88, respectively. In the test sample, the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of RaUl were 0.93, 0.70, and 0.82 and those of RaUl D-value were 0.77, 0.83, and 0.80 respectively.


      Load-bearing RaUl measurement is a simple method to diagnose an unstable distal radioulnar joint in patients with TFCC injury. The load bearing RaUl of >10 mm or RaUl D-value of >6.5 mm can be used to differentiate TFCC injuries and showed acceptable accuracy.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Diagnostic II.

      Key words

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