Radiographic Comparison of Forearm Symmetry in Healthy Individuals and its Importance in the Diagnosis of Longitudinal Radioulnar Dissociation.

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PURPOSE: Longitudinal radioulnar dissociation (LRD) is an injury often missed upon initial presentation. A recent study examined a radiographic screening test in cadavers that showed increased interosseous distance when the interosseous ligament (IOL) was divided. For this test to be clinically useful, it is necessary for uninjured forearms to have similar interosseous spaces. The purpose of this study was to determine the typical differences between right and left interosseous spaces of healthy individuals.

METHODS: Anterior-posterior x-rays of bilateral forearms in maximum supination of 28 surgical residents with no history of injury were obtained. These images were uploaded into a picture archiving and communication system and then digitized. The length of the radius was measured (Xr). The maximum interosseous distance (Dmax) between the radius and ulna as well as the interosseous distance at a location 0.3 Xr from the distal radioulnar joint was measured. The right and left arm distances were compared. Also, an outlier analysis was used to evaluate forearm rotational asymmetry between right and left arms.

RESULTS: The outlier analysis revealed two sets of forearm x-rays were rotationally different compared to the rest of the group due to asymmetric arm positioning; these data were excluded from the analysis. The average difference in Dmax was 1.7 mm (standard deviation [SD] 1.5) between right and left arms, and this was found at a position of 0.28 Xr on average. The difference in interosseous distance measured at a fixed location 0.3 Xr was 1.6 mm (SD 1.5). No significant difference was found between the paired right and left arms for Dmax or at 0.3 Xr.

CONCLUSIONS: There does not appear to be any significant difference between the maximum interosseous distance of right and left arms in healthy individuals. Therefore, analyzing bilateral forearm x-rays may be a simple LRD screening test.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Understanding the degree of normal variation in the forearm bone spacing might inform evaluation of abnormal forearm bone alignment resulting from LRD.


This article was published in Journal of Hand Surgery.

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Copyright © 2023 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Published by Elsevier Inc..

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Journal of Hand Surgery

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