With a 1.5 tesla superconducting M.R. imager and surface coil, M.R. imaging achieved high resolution analysis of the wrist on five normal wrists and 26 wrists with Kienböck's disease. The purpose of this study was to establish new criteria for diagnosis, staging and prognosis of Kienböck's disease, based on signal characteristics on T1- and T2-weighted images. Focal loss of signal intensity of the lunate on T1-weighted image was an indication of Kienböck's disease. A decreased signal containing a high spot and increased signal intensity of the lunate on T2-weighted images indicated a better prognosis. After osteotomy of the radius, the signal intensity of the lunate returned to normal and Lichtman's stage II cases had better results than those in stage III. M.R. imaging is ideal for evaluating the lunate in Kienböck's disease.

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