Effects of Radial Head Excision and Distal Radial Shortening on Load-Sharing in Cadaver Forearms

Shepard, Michael F.; Markolf, Keith L.; Dunbar, Arati Mallik
January 2001
Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, American Volume;Jan2001, Vol. 83-A Issue 1, p92
Academic Journal
Background: The present study was performed to measure changes in radioulnar load-sharing in the cadaveric forearm following two orthopaedic surgical procedures that often have varying results: radial head excision and distal radial shortening. A better understanding of the biomechanical consequences of those procedures could aid surgeons in obtaining a more satisfactory clinical outcome. Methods: Miniature load-cells were inserted into the proximal part of the radius and the distal part of the ulna in twenty fresh-frozen cadaveric forearms. Load-cell forces, radial head displacement relative to the capitellum, and local tension within the central band of the interosseous membrane were measured simultaneously as the wrist was loaded to 133.5 N in neutral pronation-supination and neutral radioulnar deviation. Testing was repeated after incremental distal radial shortening and after removal of the radial head. Results: With the elbow flexed to 90° and in valgus alignment (the radial head in contact with the capitellum), the mean force in the distal part of the ulna was 7.1% of the applied wrist force and the mean force in the interosseous membrane was 4.0%. With the elbow in varus alignment (a mean initial gap of 1.97 mm between the radial head and the capitellum), the respective mean values were 27.9% and 51.2%. After excision of the radial head, the mean force in the distal part of the ulna increased to 42.4% of the applied wrist force and the mean force in the interosseous membrane increased to 58.8%, in both varus and valgus elbow alignment. The mean distal ulnar force increased with progressive distal radial shortening in both varus and valgus elbow alignment; after 6 mm of radial shortening, the distal ulnar force averaged 92.4% (in varus alignment) and 60.9% (in valgus alignment). Equal distal load-sharing between the radius and ulna occurred after approximately 5 mm of radial shortening with the elbow in valgus alignment and after approximately 2 mm...


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