Imaging of TFCC Injury of the Wrist

about dynamic cone-beam ct imaging of TFCC wrist injury

It’s always difficult to combine clinical aspects and diagnostic imaging, approaching wrist joint pathology; in many circumstances the orthopaedic surgeon needs to directly visualize what’s happened during the joint motion, especially in a complex region such as the wrist.

I show you an example in which a complex tear of the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is evident, togheter with a positive ulnar variance. TFCC is a complex of a fibrocartilaginous disk in association with several ligamentous structures, acting as a  stabilizers of the distal radioulnar joint, and transmitting axial loading from carpus to the ulna.

TFC Injury

Coronal T1w (left) and 3D SHARC (right) Mri scans (0.3 Tesla).

The dedicated Mri examination (0.3 Tesla), depicts the pathologic picture; the ulnar plus defines the reduction of the quadrilateral ulno-carpal space, and the consequent complex tear of the TFCC at its ulnar attachment; but what happens during the active movements? I usually perform also the dynamic evaluation, both with ultrasound and Mri exams. In this case the Cone-beam CT (CBCT) dynamic acquisitions give the answer.

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Dorsal Scapholunate Ligament Tear

about dynamic mri and ultrasound examination of carpal instability

In my previous post Dynamic Evaluation of Dorsal Scapholunate Ligament I showed the usefulness of both ultrasound and Mri dynamic evaluation in the study of this important ligament structure. Today I want to show you the dorsal scapholunate ligament (SL) tear in a patient that came to my observation after a regular healing of post-traumatic scaphoid fracture.

SL Tear

Coronal Stir (left) and T1w (right)  Mri scans (0.3 Tesla): correct visualization with no artifacts of post-surgical treatment with scaphoid screw. Tear of the dorsal scapholunate ligament is evident (red arrow).

For the appropriate treatment is crucial to see also the dynamic behaviour of this kind of injuries. I always perform both ultrasound and Mri dynamic evaluation in these cases.

The dynamic ultrasound exam shows the post-traumatic carpal instability; dorsal SL tear is evident, togheter with the scapholunate dissociation and DISI picture.

For the correct ultrasound scanning please see my previous post Dynamic Evaluation of Dorsal Scapholunate Ligament.

The Dynamic Mri evaluation (0.3 Tesla) during flexion-extension and ulnar-radial deviation confirms the clinical picture, better defining all the pathologic findings. The radiology technician plays a crucial role for this kind of examination, explaining to the patient the correct wrist movement during the Mri acquisitions.

Dynamic Evaluation of Dorsal Scapholunate Ligament

The scapholunate ligament (SL) is one of the most clinically signicant ligaments of the wrist and unfortunately, its injuries often are not diagnosed or treated during the acute phase of injury, when direct repair of the ligament would be possible. It has three components – volar, dorsal, and interosseous. The dorsal and volar represent true ligaments, whereas the interosseous component is fibrocartilage.  All of the surgeons needs to know as much information as possible about the ligament anatomy and its relationships with other carpal structures, especially under dynamic conditions. In an interesting paper, Wrist MRI and Carpal Instability: What the Surgeon Needs to Know, and the Case for Dynamic Imaging the author closes the abstract with these words: “Providing specifics about the clinical questions that arise with various carpal instabilities serves to highlight the challenges facing current imaging technology, and provides a framework that supports the argument for the development of dynamic MRI as one-and perhaps the only-truly satisfactory solution to this problem“. I agree with him, definitely. In my daily practice I always perform both dynamic Mri and ultrasound examination; I find very attractive the study of carpal stability with dynamic Mri and ultrasound imaging. First knowing the normal appearance of carpal behaviour, then carpal instability.

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Normal appearance of dorsal scapholunate ligament: Coronal Ge stir, 3D and X-bone T1w Mri scans (0.3 Tesla).


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Axial and Sagittal T2w Mri scans (0.3 Tesla). Perfect allignement of the central osseus carpal chain is evident on sagittal scan.

Dynamic Mri of dorsal scapholunate ligament: radial and ulnar deviation.

See the video below and enjoy your practice!