Assessment of ulnar variance: a radiological investigation in a Dutch population

A. H. Schuurman, M. Maas, P. F. Dijkstra, J. M. Kauer

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A radiological study was performed to evaluate ulnar variance in 68 Dutch patients using an electronic digitizer compared with Palmer's concentric circle method. Using the digitizer method only, the effect of different wrist positions and grip on ulnar variance was then investigated. Finally the distribution of ulnar variance in the selected patients was investigated also using the digitizer method. All radiographs were performed with the wrist in a standard zero-rotation position (posteroanterior) and in supination (anteroposterior). Palmer's concentric circle method and an electronic digitizer connected to a personal computer were used to measure ulnar variance. The digitizer consists of a Plexiglas plate with an electronically activated grid beneath it. A radiograph is placed on the plate and a cursor activates a point on the grid. Three plots are marked on the radius and one plot on the most distal part of the ulnar head. The digitizer then determines the difference between a radius passing through the radius plots and the ulnar plot. Using the concentric circle method we found an ulna plus predominance, but an ulna minus predominance when using the digitizer method. Overall the ulnar variance distribution for Palmer's method was 41.9% ulna plus, 25.7% neutral and 32.4% ulna minus variance, and for the digitizer method was 40.4% ulna plus, 1.5% neutral and 58.1% ulna minus. The percentage ulnar variance greater than 1 mm on standard radiographs increased from 23% to 58% using the digitizer, with maximum grip, clearly demonstrating the (dynamic) effect of grip on ulnar variance. This almost threefold increase was found to be a significant difference. Significant differences were found between ulnar variance when different wrist positions were compared
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-638
JournalSkeletal radiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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