Twenty-Year Experience With Primary Distal Radioulnar Joint Arthroplasty From a Single Institution

Asgeir Amundsen, Marco Rizzo, Richard A. Berger, Matthew T. Houdek, Frede Frihagen, Steven L. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The use of implant arthroplasty in the distal radioulnar joint is increasing. Two main types of implants are commonly used, ulnar head prosthesis (UHP) and hemi or semi-constrained total distal radioulnar joint arthroplasty. The literature consists mainly of small patient series. The purpose of this study was to examine our long-term outcomes of distal radioulnar joint arthroplasty. Methods: Patient data were collected in a patient registry from 2000 to 2019. The follow-up included radiographic examination, physical examination, Mayo Wrist Scores, pain level, range of motion, and grip strength. Reoperations were recorded. The implants were a semi-constrained prosthesis and a metallic UHP. The mean age at surgery was 50 years. Patient demographics were similar, but the semi-constrained group had a higher preoperative percentage of instability (85 vs 52 percent). The median follow-up time was 30 months for the semi-constrained implants group and 102 months for the UHP group. Results: A total of 53 primary semi-constrained total joint arthroplasties and 102 UHPs were included. The grip strength and Mayo Wrist Score improved for both the implant groups. Pain reduced in 76% of the patients. Supination improved for the semi-constrained total joint arthroplasty group. Lifting capacity was better in the semi-constrained total joint arthroplasty patients. The unadjusted reoperation rate was 23% for the semi-constrained implants group and 34% for the UHP group. Twenty-two implants were bilateral; these had comparable results to unilateral implants. Kaplan–Meier survival curves demonstrated 94% survival rate for the semi-constrained implants group and 87% survival for the UHP group after 5 years. The risk factors associated with reoperation for the combined implant group included younger age at surgery, previous wrist surgery, ulnar shortening, and wrist fusion. Conclusions: Distal radioulnar joint arthroplasty improved functional outcomes in both the implant groups, but reoperations were frequent. The semi-constrained implants group had better lifting capacity. The bilateral implants had comparable outcomes to the unilateral implants. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-67
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Arthroplasty
  • distal radioulnar joint
  • implant
  • prothesis
  • wrist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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