Vaughan-Jackson-like syndrome as an unusual presentation of Kienböck's disease: a case report

Tooba Mazhar, Rohit Rambani
Journal of Medical Case Reports 2011 July 25, 5: 325

INTRODUCTION: Kienböck's disease is a condition of osteonecrosis of the lunate bone in the hand, and most patients present with a painful and sometimes swollen wrist with a limited range of motion in the affected wrist. Vaughan-Jackson syndrome is characterized by the disruption of the digital extensor tendons, beginning on the ulnar side with the extensor digiti minimi and extensor digitorum communis tendon of the small finger. It is most commonly associated with rheumatoid arthritis. We describe a case of a patient with an unusual presentation of Kienböck's disease with symptoms similar to those of Vaughan-Jackson syndrome.

CASE PRESENTATION: A 40-year-old man of Indian ethnic origin with no known history of trauma presented to our clinic with a ten-day history of an inability to extend his right little and ring fingers with associated pain in his right wrist. He was being treated with long-term steroids but had no other significant medical history. His examination revealed an inability to extend the metacarpal and phalangeal joints of the right ring and little fingers with localized tenderness over the lunate bone. Spontaneous disruption of the extensor tendons was diagnosed clinically and, after radiological investigation, was confirmed to be secondary to dorsal extrusion of the fragmented lunate bone. The patient underwent surgical repair of the tendons and had a full recovery afterward.

CONCLUSION: Kienböck's disease, though rare, is an important cause of spontaneous extensor tendon rupture. The original description of Vaughan-Jackson syndrome was of rupture of the extensor tendons of the little and ring fingers caused by attrition at an arthritic inferior radioulnar joint. We describe a case of a patient with Kienböck's disease that first appeared to be a Vaughan-Jackson-like syndrome.

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