To evaluate the differences between radioscapholunate (RSL) arthrodesis alone versus RSL arthrodesis with additional distal scaphoidectomy.

We retrospectively evaluated 61 patients who were treated with RSL arthrodesis for painful posttraumatic osteoarthritis. Thirty patients had an RSL arthrodesis with additional resection of the distal scaphoid pole (group A), and 31 had RSL arthrodesis alone (group B). Six patients in group A and 8 in group B had the RSL arthrodesis converted to a complete wrist arthrodesis during follow-up. Those patients were excluded from the survey. Of the remaining 47 patients, 35 (20 from group A, 15 from group B) returned for a clinical and radiological examination at an average of 28 (range, 10-47) months after the index surgery. The results were rated by the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score and the modified Mayo Wrist Score. The patients' outcomes after RSL arthrodesis with or without distal scaphoidectomy were compared for pain, wrist motion, grip strength, nonunion rate, osteoarthritis of the adjacent joints, the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score and the modified Mayo Wrist Score.

Three patients with RSL arthrodesis alone showed a radioscaphoid nonunion. All arthrodeses in group A healed. In the clinical evaluation, there was no significant difference between groups A and B in the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score, the modified Mayo Wrist Score, grip strength, pain, or wrist motion. Assuming that wrist motion might be better in patients with a nonunion, the average wrist motion was recalculated after eliminating 3 patients with a radioscaphoid nonunion from group B. Radial deviation was then found to be significantly better in group A.

Additional distal scaphoidectomy with RSL arthrodesis seems to improve postoperative radial deviation of the wrist. The radioscaphoid nonunion rate is high with RSL arthrodesis alone. Distal scaphoidectomy appeared to increase the successful fusion rate of RSL arthrodeses. No significant effect on wrist extension, flexion, ulnar deviation, pain level, restriction in activities of daily living, or grip strength was noted.