Editor's Choice| Volume 48, ISSUE 1, P53-67, January 2023

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Twenty-Year Experience With Primary Distal Radioulnar Joint Arthroplasty From a Single Institution


      The use of implant arthroplasty in the distal radioulnar joint is increasing. Two main types of implants are commonly used, ulnar head prosthesis (UHP) and hemi or semi-constrained total distal radioulnar joint arthroplasty. The literature consists mainly of small patient series. The purpose of this study was to examine our long-term outcomes of distal radioulnar joint arthroplasty.


      Patient data were collected in a patient registry from 2000 to 2019. The follow-up included radiographic examination, physical examination, Mayo Wrist Scores, pain level, range of motion, and grip strength. Reoperations were recorded. The implants were a semi-constrained prosthesis and a metallic UHP. The mean age at surgery was 50 years. Patient demographics were similar, but the semi-constrained group had a higher preoperative percentage of instability (85 vs 52 percent). The median follow-up time was 30 months for the semi-constrained implants group and 102 months for the UHP group.


      A total of 53 primary semi-constrained total joint arthroplasties and 102 UHPs were included. The grip strength and Mayo Wrist Score improved for both the implant groups. Pain reduced in 76% of the patients. Supination improved for the semi-constrained total joint arthroplasty group. Lifting capacity was better in the semi-constrained total joint arthroplasty patients. The unadjusted reoperation rate was 23% for the semi-constrained implants group and 34% for the UHP group. Twenty-two implants were bilateral; these had comparable results to unilateral implants. Kaplan–Meier survival curves demonstrated 94% survival rate for the semi-constrained implants group and 87% survival for the UHP group after 5 years. The risk factors associated with reoperation for the combined implant group included younger age at surgery, previous wrist surgery, ulnar shortening, and wrist fusion.


      Distal radioulnar joint arthroplasty improved functional outcomes in both the implant groups, but reoperations were frequent. The semi-constrained implants group had better lifting capacity. The bilateral implants had comparable outcomes to the unilateral implants.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Therapeutic IV.

      Key words

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