Kienbock's disease: diagnosis and treatment

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. Mar-Apr 2001;9(2):128-36. doi: 10.5435/00124635-200103000-00006.


Kienbock's disease, or osteonecrosis of the lunate, can lead to chronic, debilitating wrist pain. Etiologic factors include vascular and skeletal variations combined with trauma or repetitive loading. In stage I Kienbock's disease, plain radiographs appear normal, and bone scintigraphy or magnetic resonance imaging is required for diagnosis. Initial treatment is nonoperative. In stage II, sclerosis of the lunate, compression fracture, and/or early collapse of the radial border of the lunate may appear. In stage IIIA, there is more severe lunate collapse. Because the remainder of the carpus is still uninvolved, treatment in stages II and IIIA involves attempts at revascularization of the lunate-either directly (with vascularized bone grafting) or indirectly (by unloading the lunate). Radial shortening in wrists with negative ulnar variance and capitate shortening or radial-wedge osteotomy in wrists with neutral or positive ulnar variance can be performed alone or with vascularized bone grafting. In stage IIIB, palmar rotation of the scaphoid and proximal migration of the capitate occur, and treatment addresses the carpal collapse. Surgical options include scaphotrapeziotrapezoid or scaphocapitate arthrodesis to correct scaphoid hyperflexion. In stage IV, degenerative changes are present at the midcarpal joint, the radiocarpal joint, or both. Treatment options include proximal-row carpectomy and wrist arthrodesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carpal Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Carpal Bones / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Osteochondritis / diagnosis*
  • Osteochondritis / etiology
  • Osteochondritis / surgery
  • Osteochondritis / therapy*
  • Radiography