Ulnar variance and subchondral bone mineralization patterns in the distal articular surface of the radius

Riccardo E. Giunta, Edgar Biemer, Magdalena Müller-Gerbl

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12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Based on biomechanical experiments in specimens it is accepted widely that ulnar length determines loading of distal articular surface of the radius with ulna-minus variance increasing and ulna-plus variance decreasing the loading of the lunate compartment. Nevertheless a direct assessment of the actual loading conditions in the living is currently impossible. The aim of the present study is therefore to evaluate subchondral bone mineralization patterns to provide further information about the role of ulnar length in load transmission through the radiocarpal joint. Methods: Twelve wrists of healthy subjects with an average age of 33 years and an average congenital ulna-minus wrist of -2.8 mm (range, -4 to -1 mm) were examined by means of computed tomography-osteoabsorptiometry. A further 5 wrists in healthy subjects with an average age of 52 years and an average congenital ulna-plus variance of +3.0 mm (range, +2 to +4 mm) were examined with the same technique. Seventeen wrist joints of 9 healthy subjects with ulna-zero variance were examined in the control group. Results: The results show a mainly lunate mineralization pattern in subjects with ulna-minus wrists in 75% of the cases, which is more frequent than in subjects with ulna-zero wrists. The results in ulna-plus variance show a mainly scaphoid mineralization pattern in 100% of cases. The differences in mineralization patterns are statistically significant. Conclusions: We conclude from these morphologic results in living subjects that ulnar length determines the peak mineralization patterns of the distal articular surface of the radius with a relatively lesser loading of the lunate fossa in ulna-plus variance and a relatively higher loading history in most cases of ulna-minus variance. The hypothesis, however, that ulna-minus variance is always a sign of a relatively higher loading history of the lunate fossa cannot be supported. Copyright copy; 2004 by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-840
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2004

Keywords

  • Kienböck's disease
  • Wrist
  • lunate necrosis
  • ulnar length
  • ulnar variance

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