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This study examined the role of arthroscopic debridement alone for complete and incomplete intercarpal ligament tears of the wrist. Forty-three wrists underwent arthroscopic evaluation for persistent wrist pain and were identified as having isolated scapholunate or lunotriquetral ligament tears treated by arthroscopic debridement alone of the torn ligament edges. At follow-up examination at an average of 27 months, 29 (66%) wrists having a complete scapholunate ligament tear and 36 (85%) wrists having a limited scapholunate ligament tear had either complete symptom resolution or improved symptomatology. Thirty-three (78%) wrists with a complete lunotriquetral ligament tear and 43 (100%) wrists having a limited lunotriquetral ligament tear had complete symptom resolution or improvement. No wrists were noted to have static intercarpal instability pattern changes on follow-up radiographs. Grip strength improved 23% postoperatively. These findings suggest that intercarpal ligament tears, in a majority of patients, may be treated from a symptomatic standpoint by debridement alone for at least several years. The long-term ability of this approach to maintain a pain-free wrist has yet to be determined. No statistically significant difference was noted in the symptomatic improvement rate of scapholunate compared to lunotriquetral ligament debridement.
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Accepted: August 15, 1996
Received: April 24, 1995
*No benefits in any from have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.
© 1997 The American Society for Surgery of the Hand. All rights reserved. Published by Elsevier Inc.