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The Long-Term Outcome of Four-Corner Fusion
23 April 2015 (online)
Introduction Four-corner arthrodesis with excision of the scaphoid is an accepted salvage procedure for scapholunate advanced collapse (SLAC) and scaphoid nonunion advanced collapse (SNAC) and has been performed in our unit for over 20 years. We have undertaken a retrospective review of 116 of these procedures performed in 110 patients between 1992 and 2009. Fifty-eight patients attended for a clinical evaluation, and 29 responded by postal questionnaire.
Methods The surgical technique undertaken was standard. That is, through a dorsal approach the scaphoid and tip of the radial styloid were excised. The capitate, lunate, triquetrum, and hamate articular surfaces were then prepared down to bleeding bone. Bone grafts from the scaphoid and radial styloid were then inserted and fixation undertaken. For the latter, various methods were used, including Kirschner (K-)wires, staples, bone screws, but predominantly the Spider plate (Integra Life Sciences, USA). Thereafter the wrist was immobilized for a minimum period of 2 weeks prior to rehabilitation.
Results Follow-up was done at a mean of 9 years and 4 months (range 3–19 years). All patients reported a significant improvement in pain relief and ∼50% of flexion extension, although only 40% of radioulnar deviation. Grip strength was again ∼50% of the contralateral side. Most patients reported a significant improvement in function with 87% returning to work. In addition, radiologic evaluation identified 28 patients (31%) who demonstrated ongoing signs of nonunion, particularly around the triquetrum. Fourteen of these (15%) underwent a further procedure, generally with success. Finally, none of the patients demonstrated any arthritic changes in the lunate fossa on follow-up X-ray, and all secondary procedures were undertaken within 2 years of the primary.
Discussion This research has demonstrated that four-corner fusion fixed with a circular plate can result in a satisfactory outcome with a reduction in pain, a functional range of motion, and a satisfactory functional outcome. The bulk of the complications appear to occur in the first 2 years after surgery. Thereafter, analysis shows long-term satisfaction with little deterioration. Nonunion, particularly around the triquetrum, continues to be a problem, but it may be that this bone should be excised along with the scaphoid, resulting in a three-part fusion only. Alternatively, a simple capitolunate fusion may be satisfactory.
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