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Upper Limb

The relationship between the site of nonunion of the scaphoid and scaphoid nonunion advanced collapse (SNAC)

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We studied retrospectively the radiographs of 33 patients with late symptoms after scaphoid nonunion in an attempt to relate the incidence of scaphoid nonunion advanced collapse (SNAC) to the level of the original fracture. We found differing patterns for nonunion at the proximal, middle and distal thirds. The mean intervals between fracture and complaint were 20.9, 6.7 and 12.6 years and obvious degenerative changes occurred in 85.7%, 40.0% and 33.3%, for the six proximal-, eight middle- and two distal-third nonunions, respectively.

Nonunion at the proximal and middle thirds showed the first degenerative changes at the radioscaphoid joint, and this was followed by narrowing of the scaphocapitate and then the lunocapitate joints. In our two nonunions of the distal third degenerative changes were seen only at the lunocapitate joint. Most patients with SNAC and nonunion of the middle or distal third showed dorsal intercalated instability; few patients with nonunion of the proximal third developed this deformity.

We discuss the initial management of nonunion of the scaphoid at different levels in the light of our findings, and make recommendations.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr H. Moritomo at 1-12-5, Shinsenri-Kitamachi, Toyonaka-shi, Osaka 565-0081, Japan.

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