Computed tomography of wrist trauma.
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We devised a rapid and sensitive computed tomography (CT) method to assess the acutely injured wrist, healing carpal fractures and post-traumatic osteonecrosis, when the plain films offer insufficient information. The wrist is positioned in a simple reverse-L-shaped Perspex immobilizer. With the scaphoid as the center of the arc and the long axis of the distal radius as the reference 0 degrees line, sequential coronal scans of the wrist were done in 10 degrees increments in an arc of 40 degrees to give 0 degrees, 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees and 40 degrees scans. The 0 degrees and 10 degrees arc scans were best for evaluating the distal radius and ulna and soft tissues, the 10 degrees and 20 degrees scans for the carpal bones other than the scaphoid, and their relation to each other, the 30 degrees and 40 degrees scans, parallel to the long axis of the scaphoid, for fractures of the scaphoid and the hook of the hamate. In addition the 40 degrees scan offered an excellent carpal tunnel view. In 22 patients examined for wrist trauma CT was found to be more accurate than plain films and plain-film tomography in determining the presence of a fracture (4 scaphoid and 1 distal radius), in assessing the degree of osseous union (12) and in evaluating intercarpal fusion (2). In addition CT detected avascular necrosis of the lunate in two patients and erosions of the scaphoid and distal radius attributed to rheumatoid arthritis in one.
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