Ulnar variance as a predictor of persistent instability following Galeazzi fracture-dislocations

Takemoto R, Sugi M, Immerman I, Tejwani N, Egol KA. Ulnar variance as a
predictor of persistent instability following Galeazzi fracture-dislocations. J
Orthop Traumatol. 2014 Mar;15(1):41-6



We investigated the radiographic parameters that may predict distal radial ulnar joint (DRUJ) instability in surgically treated radial shaft fractures. In our clinical experience, there are no previously reported radiographic parameters that are universally predictive of DRUJ instability following radial shaft fracture.


Fifty consecutive patients, ages 20-79 years, with unilateral radial shaft fractures and possible associated DRUJ injury were retrospectively identified over a 5-year period. Distance from radial carpal joint (RCJ) to fracture proportional to radial shaft length, ulnar variance, and ulnar styloid fractures were correlated with DRUJ instability after surgical treatment.


Twenty patients had persistent DRUJ incongruence/instability following fracture fixation. As a proportion of radial length, the distance from the RCJ to the fracture line did not significantly differ between those with persistent DRUJ instability and those without (p = 0.34). The average initial ulnar variance was 5.5 mm (range 2-12 mm, SD = 3.2) in patients with DRUJ instability and 3.8 mm (range 0-11 mm, SD = 3.5) in patients without. Only 4/20 patients (20%) with DRUJ instability had normal ulnar variance (-2 to +2 mm) versus 15/30 (50%) patients without (p = 0.041).


In the setting of a radial shaft fracture, ulnar variance greater or less than 2 mm was associated with a greater likelihood of DRUJ incongruence/instability following fracture fixation.

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