Background: Studies have not clearly defined the motion of the distal radius in relation to the carpus in vivo. We hypothesized that 1) with the hand fixed by grasping a handle to prevent hand and wrist motion, the resulting load in torsion generated by extrinsic muscle in vivo would create motion at the radiocarpal joint; and 2) the motion measured will be between the distal radius and the proximal row of the carpus.

Methods: The data was acquired from the senior author external to our institution; in the current study, we quantify the resulting radiocarpal motion. A K-wire was placed into the second metacarpal, and a second wire was placed in the distal radius. The shoulder was abducted to 90° and the hand was pronated, held stationary gripping a fixed object. The forearm was pronated and supinated to simulate radiocarpal rotation. Photographs were obtained at three points: 1) initial position showing the wire in vertical alignment; 2) same perspective in maximum internal radiocarpal rotation; and 3) same perspective in maximum external radiocarpal rotation. ImageJ (open source) was used to quantify the angle between the wires.

Results: Superimposition of the three photographs in vivo allowed us to approximate two angle measurements. The measurements with maximal internal and external rotations were 16° and 24°, respectively.

Conclusions: Radiocarpal rotation should be considered in addition to flexion and extension motions and radial ulnar deviations when treating degenerative changes in the wrist.

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