Pathomorphologic findings of wrist arthroscopy in children and adolescents with chronic wrist pain

Arthroscopy. 2012 Nov;28(11):1634-43. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2012.04.152. Epub 2012 Aug 28.


Purpose: The purposes of this diagnostic study were to show pathomorphologic findings of children and adolescents with persistent wrist pain and to compare these arthroscopic findings with preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Methods: A total of 41 arthroscopies in 39 patients were retrospectively reviewed. The patients underwent diagnostic wrist arthroscopy because of persistent wrist pain after at least 3 months of unsuccessful conservative treatment. Of the patients, 22 (56.4%) reported an injury before the onset of pain. The mean age at arthroscopy was 15.3 years (range, 9.8 to 19.4 years), and the mean duration between the onset of symptoms and arthroscopic exploration was 19.9 months (range, 3.0 to 121.0 months).

Results: Among all affected wrists, 33 (80.5%) showed a triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tear on arthroscopy, with 75.6% also showing other pathomorphologic findings. Retrospectively, the condition of the TFCC was correctly identified by MRI in only 17 wrists (41.5%). In contrast, 23 wrists were incorrectly classified as having "no tear" whereas arthroscopy later indeed showed a TFCC tear. Concerning the TFCC, MRI and arthroscopy showed a significant difference of outcome (P < .01), indicating low agreement (κ = 0.09) for the outcome of the 2 methods. A larger proportion of TFCC tears was found for patients with injuries (91.3%) as compared with the other patients (66.7%), although this was not significant on statistical analysis (P = .11). No significant difference in the time to surgery was found between patients with TFCC tears and those without TFCC tears classified by MRI (P = .76) and by arthroscopy (P = .99).

Conclusions: Wrist arthroscopy in children and adolescents with chronic wrist pain shows TFCC lesions in a high percentage. However, most of these lesions have not been correctly identified by MRI before arthroscopy. Thus diagnostic wrist arthroscopy may be recommended to rule out underlying pathologies and initiate further therapeutic steps.

Level of evidence: Level III, diagnostic study of nonconsecutive patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arthralgia / pathology*
  • Arthralgia / surgery*
  • Arthroscopy
  • Child
  • Chronic Pain
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lacerations / pathology
  • Lacerations / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Preoperative Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage / injuries*
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage / pathology*
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage / surgery
  • Young Adult