Wrist arthroscopy in children and adolescents: a single surgeon experience of thirty-four cases

Int Orthop. 2012 Jun;36(6):1215-20. doi: 10.1007/s00264-011-1428-y. Epub 2011 Dec 10.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to report our experience of wrist arthroscopy in children and adolescents with chronic wrist pain in a retrospective single surgeon series. Therefore, technical differences or obstacles compared to standard wrist arthroscopy in adults, and complications were highlighted.

Methods: A retrospective data review of all patients undergoing wrist arthroscopy between 2002 and 2011 was performed. The basic inclusion criteria was chronic, therapy refractory wrist pain for more than three months in children and adolescents aged 18 years and younger. In total, 34 arthroscopies in 27 girls and six boys were reviewed. The mean age at time of arthroscopic exploration was 14.6 years (range, 9.8-17.9 years).

Results: A total of 28 wrists showed a triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tear (82.4%). In 26 of 34 (76.5%) inspected wrist joints additional pathologies besides TFCC tears were documented. As a consequence, 14 arthroscopic TFCC resections, two arthroscopic TFCC repairs and seven open resection arthroplasties were performed. Other concomitant procedures (e.g., ulna shortening) were performed in 25 patients (26 wrists) because of predisposing malformations. No intraoperative or postoperative complications related to the arthroscopies were observed. No relevant technical differences to wrist arthroscopy in adults were experienced apart from cases of major anatomical malformations.

Conclusions: Wrist arthroscopy has been shown to be a safe procedure to detect and treat paediatric wrist disorders. Nevertheless, we believe that this procedure should only be carried out by well-trained, experienced hand surgeons.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arthroscopy / methods*
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries
  • Child
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteotomy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ulna / abnormalities
  • Ulna / surgery
  • Wrist Injuries / surgery
  • Wrist Joint / physiopathology
  • Wrist Joint / surgery*