3-T direct MR arthrography of the wrist: value of finger trap distraction to assess intrinsic ligament and triangular fibrocartilage complex tears

Eur J Radiol. 2013 Oct;82(10):e582-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2013.04.039. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Purpose: To determine the value of applying finger trap distraction during direct MR arthrography of the wrist to assess intrinsic ligament and triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tears.

Materials and methods: Twenty consecutive patients were prospectively investigated by three-compartment wrist MR arthrography. Imaging was performed with 3-T scanners using a three-dimensional isotropic (0.4 mm) T1-weighted gradient-recalled echo sequence, with and without finger trap distraction (4 kg). In a blind and independent fashion, two musculoskeletal radiologists measured the width of the scapholunate (SL), lunotriquetral (LT) and ulna-TFC (UTFC) joint spaces. They evaluated the amount of contrast medium within these spaces using a four-point scale, and assessed SL, LT and TFCC tears, as well as the disruption of Gilula's carpal arcs.

Results: With finger trap distraction, both readers found a significant increase in width of the SL space (mean Δ = +0.1mm, p ≤ 0.040), and noticed more contrast medium therein (p ≤ 0.035). In contrast, the differences in width of the LT (mean Δ = +0.1 mm, p ≥ 0.057) and UTFC (mean Δ = 0mm, p ≥ 0.728) spaces, as well as the amount of contrast material within these spaces were not statistically significant (p = 0.607 and ≥ 0.157, respectively). Both readers detected more SL (Δ = +1, p = 0.157) and LT (Δ = +2, p = 0.223) tears, although statistical significance was not reached, and Gilula's carpal arcs were more frequently disrupted during finger trap distraction (Δ = +5, p = 0.025).

Conclusion: The application of finger trap distraction during direct wrist MR arthrography may enhance both detection and characterisation of SL and LT ligament tears by widening the SL space and increasing the amount of contrast within the SL and LT joint spaces.

Keywords: Articular distraction; Intrinsic ligaments; Magnetic resonance arthrography; Triangular fibrocartilage complex; Wrist.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fingers / pathology
  • Fractures, Cartilage / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Patient Positioning / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rupture / pathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage / injuries*
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage / pathology*
  • Wrist Injuries / pathology*
  • Young Adult