RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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A contact-coupled finite element analysis of the radiocarpal joint.

A plane-strain finite element contact model of the radiocarpal joint has been developed to investigate the mechanical relationship between initial intra-articular fracture of the distal radius, subsequent imprecise reduction of articular incongruency, and final onset of osteoarthrosis. The model includes the radius, two carpal bones (the lunate and the scaphoid), and the articulations and ligamentous connections between the bones. The model has been validated through comparisons with previous experimental and computational models of the wrist. The relationship between malreduced intra-articular fracture of the distal radius and the subsequent onset of posttraumatic radiocarpal osteoarthrosis is clinically important but poorly understood. The broad objective of the current research is the development of a well-verified computational model of the radiocarpal joint, which in concert with previously developed experimental models, will be capable of providing guidance toward rigorously grounded improvements in distal radius intra-articular fracture management techniques. This model represents a first step toward this objective as well as a new level of computational simulation of wrist mechanics.

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