Fractures of the distal radius are among the most common injuries of the upper extremity, though treatment has traditionally focused on restoration of the radiocarpal joint and late sequelae may persist. X-ray imaging underestimates sigmoid notch involvement following distal radius fractures. No classification system exists for disruption patterns of the sigmoid notch of the radius associated with distal radius fractures. This study quantifies the anatomy of the sigmoid notch and identifies the landmarks of the articular surface and proximal boundaries of the distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) capsule. Computed tomography scans of freshly frozen cadaveric hands were used - followed by dissection, and three-dimensional reconstruction of the distal radius and sigmoid notch. The sigmoid notch surface was divided into two surfaces and measured. The Anterior Posterior (AP) and Proximal Distal (PD) widths of the articulating surface were reviewed, along with the radius of curvature, version angle and depth. The study showed that the sigmoid notch is flatter than previously believed - and only the distal 69% of its surface is covered by cartilage. On average, it has about nine degrees of retroversion, and its average inclination is almost parallel to the anatomical axis of the radius. Clinical implications exist for evaluation of the DRUJ involvement in distal radius fractures or degenerative diseases and for future development and evaluation of hemiarthroplasty replacement of the distal radius.
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