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Early Results in Total Replacement of the Distal Radioulnar Joint.

BACKGROUND: Pathology of the distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) including instability and arthritis presents a challenge for hand and upper extremity surgeons. Surgical options include a Darrach procedure and similar resections, soft tissue interposition arthroplasty, and a one-bone forearm. In 2005, a prosthesis for DRUJ arthroplasty was approved for use in the United States. The authors hypothesize that DRUJ arthroplasty will lead to improved pain and range of motion (ROM) with a moderate, but manageable, complication rate.

METHODS: A retrospective review of 46 patients who underwent DRUJ arthroplasty by a single private group of hand surgeons was performed. Demographics, complications, postoperative visual analog scale (VAS), and postoperative ROM were obtained and analyzed.

RESULTS: The patients were followed up for a mean of 60 weeks. The implant was used both as primary surgical treatment for DRUJ pathology and as salvage for previous failed procedures. Twenty-two percent of patients experienced complications: 15% required revision surgery. No patients were converted to another type of implant, including those who underwent revision surgery. Prominent hardware was the most common indication requiring revision. Patients achieved an improvement in supination of 17° and extension of 5°. They additionally achieved a decrease in average VAS score from 7.1 to 2.3.

CONCLUSIONS: Distal radioulnar joint arthroplasty reduces pain and improves ROM in patients with DRUJ pathology with a 22% complication rate. This cohort demonstrates improved pain, modest improvement in ROM, but a 22% complication rate for this implant. Further long-term studies are encouraged.

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