Delayed Presentation of Unstable Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Tears Treated with Volar Foveal Ligament Repair

Joseph S. Geller, David P. Taormina, Janelle D. Greene, Seth D. Dodds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypothesis An open volar surgical approach with suture anchor repair of the foveal ligament and temporary pinning of the distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ) is an effective way to treat DRUJ instability associated with chronic foveal tears of the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC). Methods We retrospectively reviewed nine patients with foveal ligament tears of the TFCC and DRUJ instability who underwent open repair of the TFCC using a volar surgical approach, combined with temporary pinning of the DRUJ for 8 weeks. Pain, instability, arc of motion, and functional outcomes scores were evaluated. Results Mean patient age was 40.5 years (range 16.3-56.2). Average time from injury to surgery was 8.4 months (range 2.9-23.3 months). Average final follow-up was 18.9 months from injury (range 12.0-29.3 months), 10.5 months from surgery (range 3.9-18.6 months), and 8.7 months from pin removal (range 1.7-17.2 months). At final follow-up, all patients demonstrated clinically stable DRUJ. Pain scores diminished significantly from pre to final postoperative visits, with averages of 6.8 (range 4.0-9.0) improving to a mean of 0.70 (range 0.0-2.0), respectively. Average postoperative forearm rotation was 71.1 degrees in supination and 76.1 degrees in pronation (average total arc of motion 147.2 degrees, range 90-160 degrees). Average postoperative wrist motion was 68.8 degrees in flexion and 70.6 degrees in extension (average total arc of motion 139.4 degrees, range 110-160 degrees). No patients developed crepitus, recurrent DRUJ instability, or required revision surgery (subsequent to pin removal). Conclusion Volar suture anchor repair of the foveal ligament of the TFCC with DRUJ pinning led to reliable outcomes within this patient group including a stable DRUJ with improved functional outcomes regarding pain, stability, and range of motion in patients with foveal TFCC tears and associated DRUJ instability. These results compare favorably with dorsal repair of the foveal ligament. Level of Incidence This is a Level IV, therapeutic study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000125cra
Pages (from-to)144-149
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Wrist Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • DRUJ instability
  • foveal ligament
  • TFCC
  • volar approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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