Structural properties of reconstruction constructs for the interosseous ligament of the forearm

Kathryne J Stabile, Jamie Pfaeffle, Ioannis Saris, Zong-Ming Li, Matthew M Tomaino
Journal of Hand Surgery 2005, 30 (2): 312-8

PURPOSE: The Essex-Lopresti fracture-dislocation, also termed longitudinal radioulnar dissociation (LRUD), results in major functional impairment from pain and limitation of motion at the wrist and elbow. Interosseous ligament (IOL) reconstruction has been proposed to help treat LRUD and restore forearm stability. The objective of this study was to evaluate the biomechanical structural properties of 3 different IOL reconstruction constructs and of the intact IOL for comparison.

METHODS: Structural tensile testing was performed on 24 fresh-frozen cadaveric forearms with 4 different forearm conditions: IOL intact and IOL reconstructed with Achilles tendon, flexor carpi radialis (FCR) tendon, and bone-patellar tendon-bone. Isolated radius-IOL-ulna constructs were loaded to failure in a materials testing machine with force applied along the local fiber direction.

RESULTS: Stiffness in the intact IOL was 129 +/- 31 N/mm, which was significantly stiffer than any of the constructs tested. The intact IOL was 8 times stiffer than the Achilles tendon construct, 7 times stiffer than the FCR construct, and 3 times stiffer than the bone-patellar tendon-bone construct. The Achilles tendon and FCR constructs were similar to each other biomechanically but the bone-patellar tendon-bone construct was slightly stiffer than the Achilles tendon and FCR constructs.

CONCLUSIONS: All graft constructs tested were inferior structurally to the intact IOL. The results of this study provide a biomechanical basis for graft selection for reconstruction of the IOL.

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