Proximal Row Carpectomy in Young Patients

Eric R. Wagner, Laurel A. Barras, Chelsea Harstad, Bassem T. Elhassan, Steven L. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background:There continues to be controversy regarding the treatment of early-stage arthritis of the wrist, particularly in young patients, because of the large number of techniques, the poor long-Term results for many of these techniques, and the overall paucity of high-level scientific data. Proximal row carpectomy (PRC) and 4-corner arthrodesis (4CA) have been established as the mainstay motion-sparing surgical treatment options in cases of early scapholunate advanced collapse and scaphoid nonunion advanced collapse arthritis. However, there is marked controversy surrounding the best treatment option for younger patients with greater physical demands because of the questionable outcomes associated with these motion-sparing options in such patients1-9. Traditionally, many surgeons prefer 4CA over PRC for young, high-demand patients, in part because studies have suggested that young age and work status as a laborer are important risk factors for worse outcomes following PRC1,8. However, the concern for symptomatic nonunion and potential for radiolunate arthritis in 4CA, as well as the lack of medium to long-Term comparative studies in this subset, make this recommendation controversial10.Description:The wrist is accessed via the dorsal approach, creating a retinacular flap and a radially based ligament-sparing capsulotomy. The scaphoid, lunate, and triquetrum are then excised en bloc. The radioscapholunate ligament is protected. The capsule and retinaculum and then repaired.Alternatives:Alternatives to PRC include nonoperative treatment, 4CA, capitolunate arthrodesis, posterior and anterior interosseous neurectomies, total wrist arthroplasty, and total wrist arthrodesis.Rationale:A recent study by Wagner et al. compared patients <45 years old who underwent either PRC or 4CA11. Overall, PRC and 4CA had similar complication rates, postoperative pain levels, wrist function, and long-Term outcomes free of conversion to arthrodesis. Patients who underwent PRC had improved motion and fewer complications, whereas patients who underwent 4CA had slightly lower rates of radiocarpal arthritis. Therefore, in this technique article, we describe PRC for wrist arthritis in patients <45 years old.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJBJS Essential Surgical Techniques
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 4 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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