Prognostic factors for clinical outcomes after arthroscopic treatment of traumatic central tears of the triangular fibrocartilage complex

Bone Joint J. 2024 Apr 1;106-B(4):380-386. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.106B4.BJJ-2023-0642.R3.


Aims: The study aimed to assess the clinical outcomes of arthroscopic debridement and partial excision in patients with traumatic central tears of the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC), and to identify prognostic factors associated with unfavourable clinical outcomes.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted on patients arthroscopically diagnosed with Palmer 1 A lesions who underwent arthroscopic debridement and partial excision from March 2009 to February 2021, with a minimum follow-up of 24 months. Patients were assessed using the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire, Mayo Wrist Score (MWS), and visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain. The poor outcome group was defined as patients whose preoperative and last follow-up clinical score difference was less than the minimal clinically important difference of the DASH score (10.83). Baseline characteristics, arthroscopic findings, and radiological factors (ulnar variance, MRI, or arthrography) were evaluated to predict poor clinical outcomes.

Results: A total of 114 patients were enrolled in this study, with a mean follow-up period of 29.8 months (SD 14.4). The mean DASH score improved from 36.5 (SD 21.5) to 16.7 (SD 14.3), the mean MWS from 59.7 (SD 17.9) to 79.3 (SD 14.3), and the mean VAS pain score improved from 5.9 (SD 1.8) to 2.2 (SD 2.0) at the last follow-up (all p < 0.001). Among the 114 patients, 16 (14%) experienced poor clinical outcomes and ten (8.8%) required secondary ulnar shortening osteotomy. Positive ulnar variance was the only factor significantly associated with poor clinical outcomes (p < 0.001). Positive ulnar variance was present in 38 patients (33%); among them, eight patients (21%) required additional operations.

Conclusion: Arthroscopic debridement alone appears to be an effective and safe initial treatment for patients with traumatic central TFCC tears. The presence of positive ulnar variance was associated with poor clinical outcomes, but close observation after arthroscopic debridement is more likely to be recommended than ulnar shortening osteotomy as a primary treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage* / surgery
  • Wrist Injuries* / diagnostic imaging
  • Wrist Injuries* / etiology
  • Wrist Injuries* / surgery