Distal-Ulna Stump Stability: The Role of Distal Interosseous Membrane: Myth or Reality? Anatomical Research

Hand (N Y). 2022 Dec;17(1_suppl):12S-18S. doi: 10.1177/1558944721999728. Epub 2021 Jun 18.


Background: Distal-ulna stump (DUS) instability often occurs when performing a distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) arthroplasty. Recent studies suggest that the distal interosseous membrane (DIOM) reinforces the triangular fibrocartilage complex, providing additional stability to the DRUJ. The aim of this study was to determine whether the DIOM stabilizes the ulnar stump.

Methods: Twenty fresh-frozen random forearms were dissected. The presence of a distal oblique bundle (DOB) was recorded and measured. The radius was fixed to a vise and the ulna kept free. The DRUJ was fixed with a lag screw. A bone slice was removed by transverse ulna osteotomies 10 and 15 mm proximal to the DRUJ. A 10-N force was applied to the ulna in dorsal and volar directions. Displacements were measured. The DIOM was then transected, and maneuvers and measurements were repeated and compared.

Results: A distinct distal membrane was present in 70% and a cord-like DOB in 30%. The mean length was 29 mm. Its origin was proximal to the sigmoid notch; its insertion was on the distal third of the ulna, at its lateral border. This attachment is comprised between 39 and 48 mm proximal to the ulnocarpal joint. Initial displacements averaged 22 mm dorsally and 13 mm volarly. After DIOM transection, ulnar translocation increased to 31 mm dorsally and 19 mm volarly.

Conclusion: In DRUJ arthroplasties, the DIOM does not appear to be a stabilizer of the DUS beneath a useful threshold. Its retaining effect occurs only after an initial 22-mm dorsal displacement, which we consider not clinically admissible. Therefore, in DRUJ arthroplasties, some augmentation might be advisable.

Keywords: distal interosseous bundle; distal ulna stability; forearm; interosseous membrane.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Interosseous Membrane*
  • Joint Instability* / surgery
  • Ulna / surgery