Total joint arthroplasty of the distal radioulnar joint for rheumatoid arthritis

J Hand Surg Am. 2014 Sep;39(9):1699-704. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2014.03.043. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


Purpose: To evaluate the clinical and radiological results of primary total distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) replacement as well as reconstruction following ulnar head excision in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: Seventeen patients with RA underwent 19 total DRUJ replacement between 2005 and 2011. Mean age at the time of the surgery was 57 years. Mean follow-up was 39 months (range, 12-79 mo). Pain level was evaluated using a visual analog scale (VAS). Pronation and supination were recorded before and after surgery. A patient satisfaction survey was used, as well as postoperative Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) and Patient-Related Wrist Evaluation (PRWE) scores. Ulnar translocation of the carpus was assessed radiographically, and the presence or absence of radiolucent zones around the implant were recorded.

Results: The preoperative average VAS score for the 19 joints was 7.3. Pain decreased after surgery to 2.2. Pronation improved from 56° before surgery to 78° afterward, a 39% improvement. Supination improved from 57° before surgery to 71° afterward, a 27% improvement. Final scores were 24 for the DASH and 24 for the PRWE. Fifteen patients reported substantial pain relief. All patients were satisfied with their surgical result.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that total replacement of the DRUJ is of benefit to the patient with RA. Pronation was significantly increased and supination was increased but did not approach significance. Improvement in VAS score suggests that pain was decreased.

Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

Keywords: Distal radioulnar joint arthritis; implant; rheumatoid arthritis; wrist pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / surgery*
  • Arthroplasty / methods*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pronation
  • Radius / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Supination
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ulna / surgery
  • Wrist Joint / pathology
  • Wrist Joint / surgery*