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MRI Findings More Accurate than Radiographs for Patients with Certain Carpal Arthritis

Phoenix, AZ—January 12, 2018

Located in the most commonly injured joint in the body, traumatic carpal bone fractures can lead to degenerative carpal arthritis patterns in the wrist such as Scapholunate Advanced Collapse (SLAC) and Scaphoid Nonunion Advanced Collapse (SNAC).

While historically used to determine SLAC progression, plain radiographic methods are not always sensitive. Researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery assessed the prevalence of radiolunate (RL) ligament wear in SLAC/SNAC patients by comparing operative findings to MRI and plain radiographs to determine diagnostic accuracy.

This retrospective study looked at 41 patients who underwent wrist surgery between 2006 and 2016 and were diagnosed with SLAC or SNAC with preoperative imaging. This ten-year review utilized operative reports as well as radiographs graded by radiologists using the Kelgran Lawrence Joint Grading Scale.

According to operative and MRI findings, the study found that RL wear occurs in late SLAC/SNAC patients. It was determined that plain radiograph findings underestimate the degree of involvement and that MRI has a potentially higher diagnostic accuracy for detection of RL wear. MRI findings had a stronger correlation with operative pathologic findings than radiograph (p = 0.158 vs. p = 0.337).

The study’s results suggest that surgeons should consider taking a high-resolution MRI prior to joint preserving surgery in the wrist. This knowledge can potentially change the surgical management of SLAC/SNAC osteoarthritis.

Abstract Title: Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings Correlate with Operative Findings in Patients with SLAC/SNAC Osteoarthritis

Authors: Danielle Christine Marshall, BA; Schneider K. Rancy, BA; Alissa J. Burge, MD; Hollis G. Potter, MD; Scott W. Wolfe, MD; Steve K. Lee, MD.


About HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the ninth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S.News & World Report (2018-2019). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. People from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The culture of innovation is accelerating at HSS as 130 new idea submissions were made to the Global Innovation Institute in 2017 (almost 3x the submissions in 2015). The HSS Education Institute is the world’s leading provider of education on the topic of musculoskeletal health, with its online learning platform offering more than 600 courses to more than 21,000 medical professional members worldwide. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.


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