Three-Dimensional Automated Assessment of the Distal Radioulnar Joint Morphology According to Sigmoid Notch Surface Orientation

J Hand Surg Am. 2020 Nov;45(11):1083.e1-1083.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2020.04.021. Epub 2020 Jun 16.


Purpose: To develop reproducible 3-dimensional measurements for quantification of the distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) morphology. We hypothesized that automated 3-dimensional measurement of the ulnar variance (UV) and the sigmoid notch (SN) angle would be comparable to those of the reference standard while overcoming some drawbacks of conventional 2-dimensional measurements.

Methods: Radiological data of healthy forearm bones (radiographs and computed tomography) of 53 adult subjects were included in the study. Automated measurements were developed for assessment of the SN morphology based on 3-dimensional landmarks, incorporating subject-specific estimation of cartilage surface orientation. A common anatomical reference was defined among the different imaging modalities and a comparison of the SN angle and UV measurements was performed in radiographs, computed tomography scans, and 3-dimensional models. Finally, the 3-dimensional UV measurements were evaluated in an experimental setup using 3-dimensional printed bone models.

Results: The automated 3-dimensional measurements of SN subtypes showed a notably larger notch radius (18.9 mm) for negative SN angles compared with positive SN angles in subjects (16.9 mm). Similar UV measurements were obtained in healthy DRUJ morphologies, with a high correlation between radiographs and 3-dimensional measurements for the SN angle (0.77) and UV (0.85). In the experimental setup with pathological radial inclinations, UV was on average 1.13 mm larger in the radiographs compared with the 3-dimensional measurements, and 1.30 mm larger in the cases with pathological palmar tilts. Furthermore, UV radiograph measurements on the modified palmar tilt deviated from the 3-dimensional measurements.

Conclusions: The developed 3-dimensional automated measurements were able to quantify morphological differences among sigmoid notch subtypes and were comparable to those of the reference standard.

Clinical relevance: The developed methods do not depend on the forearm position or orientation of the distal radius and can be used for 3-dimensional quantification of DRUJ pathologies in 3-dimensional surgical planning.

Keywords: 3-Dimensional planning; distal radioulnar joint; forearm; sigmoid notch; ulna variance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Radius / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ulna* / diagnostic imaging
  • Wrist Joint* / diagnostic imaging