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Arthroscopic treatment of peripheral triangular fibrocartilage complex tears with the deep fibers intact.

PURPOSE: We describe a variant of triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tears in which the superficial fibers attaching to the ulnar capsule are torn, with preservation of deep fibers inserting on the fovea. We present the clinical and magnetic resonance imaging findings and the results of arthroscopic repair in patients with this injury.

METHODS: Twenty-nine wrists were treated arthroscopically for peripheral TFCC tears with outside-in suture repair of the TFCC to the ulnar capsule. A retrospective review of all cases was performed to assess the physical examination, magnetic resonance imaging, and intraoperative findings. Patients were evaluated at greater than 1 year with range of motion, grip strength, standard outcome measures, and a survey assessing return to work and sports.

RESULTS: Before surgery, all patients had complaints of ulnar-sided wrist pain with a stable distal radioulnar joint on examination. Twenty-six wrists (90%) were available for follow-up at a mean of 31 months. There was one repeat surgery, a re-tear that required revision TFCC repair. The preoperative visual analog scale and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand scores improved from 5 and 38 to 1 and 9, respectively, at final follow-up. Side-to-side comparisons demonstrated no measurable loss in motion or grip strength. There were no cases of distal radioulnar joint instability at final follow-up. Of 11 high-level athletes in the total cohort, 7 (64%) were able to return to sports, including all of those in racquet sports; however, athletes who bore weight through their hands were unable to return to their sporting activity.

CONCLUSIONS: Tears of the TFCC superficial fibers with the deep fibers intact present with ulnar-sided wrist pain but without distal radioulnar joint instability. The results of outside-in repair of the articular disk back to the ulnar capsule demonstrated improvement in pain and function with no measurable objective losses. Return to sport was variable and appeared worse for those who bear weight through the hands.

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