Bone and Joint Institute

Effect of Radial Lengthening on Distal Forearm Loading Following Simulated In Vitro Radial Shortening During Simulated Dynamic Wrist Motion

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Journal of Hand Surgery





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© 2019 American Society for Surgery of the Hand Purpose: To evaluate the effect of radial length change on distal forearm loading during simulated dynamic wrist motion. Methods: A custom-built adjustable radial implant was used to simulate up to 4 mm of distal radius shortening (–4 mm) and 3 mm of lengthening (+3 mm). Load cells were placed in the distal radius and ulna in cadavers to measure their respective axial loads. The specimens were mounted on a wrist motion simulator that produced active wrist motion via tendon actuation. To simulate radial lengthening osteotomy following radial shortening from malunion, the radius was sequentially lengthened by 1-mm intervals from –4 mm to +3 mm. Radial and ulnar loads were measured during simulated wrist flexion, ulnar deviation (UD), and flexion dart throw (DT) at each interval of radial lengthening up to +3 mm. Results: During wrist flexion and UD, for each millimeter of radial lengthening from –4 mm to the native length, there was a significant increase in distal radial loads. No significant change in radial load was observed beyond the native length during flexion and UD. There was no change in distal radial loads during DT for each interval of radial lengthening from –4 mm to +3 mm. A sequential decrease in ulnar loads was observed as the radius was lengthened from –4 mm to +3 mm for all wrist motions evaluated. Conclusions: Radial lengthening beyond the native length was not detrimental to radial loading and further reduced distal ulnar loading; achieving at least native ulnar variance seems to be appropriate to restore normal biomechanical loading based on this in vitro study. Clinical relevance: Lengthening of the radius beyond native variance in the setting of ulnar impaction syndrome, distal radius malunion, or distal radioulnar instability may not result in excessive loading of the distal radius and further reduces loading on the distal ulna. Surgeons should obtain contralateral wrist x-rays to serve as a template when performing distal radius osteotomies.

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