29 Partial Wrist Joint Arthroplasties: APSI, Capitolunate Joint, Pisotriquetral Joint, and Little Finger Carpometacarpal Joint

Marc Leroy


Isolated partial arthrosis of the wrist has always been a challenge. The advent of pyrocarbon in recent years has made it possible to offer therapeutic alternatives to potentially burdensome procedures.

In this chapter, we will detail our management of partial wrist arthroplasties in the most well-known cases of isolated osteoarthritis of the wrist: the use of the adaptative proximal scaphoid implant (APSI) in the scaphoid nonunion advanced collapse of the wrist, the use of pyrocarbon interposition implant (Pi2) and the resurfacing capitate pyrocarbon implant (RCPI) in isolated capitolunate arthrosis, as well as the use of Pyrocardan implant in piso-triquetral arthrosis and post-traumatic carpo-metacarpal joint of the little finger.

These arthroplasties show interesting functional results and in most cases delay the onset of osteoarthritis. In addition, these techniques are lesser intervention and burn fewer bridges than conventional treatment methods (fusion, proximal row carpectomy).

In order to avoid complications (implant dislocation), the procedures must be rigorous, accompanied by dynamic fluoroscopic control and good management of the surrounding soft tissues.

29 Partial Wrist Joint Arthroplasties: APSI, Capitolunate Joint, Pisotriquetral Joint, and Little Finger Carpometacarpal Joint

Partial wrist arthritis has always been difficult to treat. In recent years, the arrival of pyrocarbon has made it possible to offer alternative options. Because of its mechanical properties and biological tolerance, pyrocarbon is a very suitable material for interposition arthroplasties. 1

29.1 APSI: Adaptative Proximal Scaphoid Implant

29.1.1 Introduction

The Adaptive Proximal Scaphoid Implant (APSI) pyrocarbon implant, first developed by Péquignot and Allieu in 2000, 2 has been reported to be a very useful solution for treating wrists affected by proximal scaphoid nonunion and scaphoid nonunion advanced collapse (SNAC) wrist. 2 This ovoid-shaped implant (Fig. 29.1) is intended to replace the scaphoid’s proximal pole to maintain carpal height. The implant helps to restore even force distribution at the proximal carpal row and aims to reduce progression of degenerative (osteoarthritic) changes. 1 When conservative treatment is no longer beneficial, the principle is to use a spacer to preserve mobility and maintain the radial column of the carpus limiting carpal collapse (Fig. 29.2a). This is an intervention that does not burn bridges other than excluding scaphoid bone union, i.e., other salvage procedures can still be undertaken if it fails.

Fig. 29.1 Adaptive proximal scaphoid implant (APSI).
Fig. 29.2 (a) Drawings showing the use of an adaptive proximal scaphoid implant (APSI) to replace the proximal pole of the scaphoid to treat radio-scaphoid arthritis. (b) The radial approach for implantation of an APSI. (c) The styloidectomy should be no more than 6mm from the tip of the styloid. (d) Resection of the proximal pole of the scaphoid. (e) Modeling of the proximal scaphoid to match the shape of the implant.

29.1.2 Implant and Surgical Technique

The commonest approaches are radial or dorsal. A palmar approach has been used but much less commonly. We prefer the radial approach (Fig. 29.2b) which easily allows for a concomitant radial styloidectomy.

Via the radial approach we protect the branches of the radial nerve and dissect down to the radiocarpal joint between the first and the second extensor compartments. If a radial styloidectomy is performed, no more than 6 mm should be removed measuring from the tip to the styloid in order to respect the anterior radiocarpal ligaments and to avoid compromising the stability of the implant (Fig. 29.2c). The extent of the resection of the proximal pole of the scaphoid will depend on the initial damage: for a SNAC wrist, resection will be limited to pseudarthrosis (Fig. 29.2d); for a scapholunate advanced collapse (SLAC) wrist, we recommend excising as little as possible to allow the implant to be centered and to maintain the ligament insertions of the scaphoid. The proximal end of the remaining distal scaphoid is burred to match the shape of the implant (Fig. 29.2e); this aims to enhance implant stability. It is important to remove any posterior bone fragments that could generate a cam effect and cause anterior subluxation or dislocation of the implant. The implant size is based on the radiographic testing of the wrist (Fig. 29.3). The aim is for the implant to be stable through the full range of wrist movement and to avoid breaching the first arc of Gilula. If, in doubt, we recommend undersizing the implant. To avoid impingement, it is necessary to ensure that the proximal scaphoid bone surface lies parallel to the slope of the distal radius in the sagittal plane. We also recommend removing a little of the capitate head of the capitate with a motorized cutter to avoid impingement with the implant. After testing with a trial, the definitive implant is inserted (Fig. 29.4). The joint capsule is closed securely and if necessary the capsule can be sutured to bone (Fig. 29.5). The wrist is supported in a splint/plaster for 2 weeks in a neutral position and then in a removable splint with protected mobilization for the next 4 weeks. From 6 weeks postoperatively onward the patient is encouraged to move without restriction.

Fig. 29.3 (a–d) Dynamic testing of the wrist: the implant must be stable in all directions of wrist.
Fig. 29.4 Adaptive proximal scaphoid implant (APSI) before final implantation.
Fig. 29.5 Capsular closure.

29.1.3 Indication and Contraindication

For scaphoid nonunions we recommend the APSI when the proximal pole of the scaphoid is no longer suitable for reconstruction, e.g., due to fragmentation or radioscaphoid arthritis, typically SNAC stages 1 and 2. For SLAC wrists the indication for an APSI is isolated radioscaphoid osteoarthritis without associated carpal collapse. We are very cautious and generally advise against the APSI implant when there is any carpal collapse, especially any dorsal subluxation of the capitate. Small and medium bone cysts are not contraindications for the APSI, as they can be filled during the operation with bone from the scaphoid proximal pole, the radial styloid process, or a bone substitute.

29.1.4 Results in Literature

Several studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in the short and medium terms, providing good pain relief without loss of wrist mobility or strength. 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 The main complication is dislocation. A retrospective analysis of these implants at 10 years has shown 12% early dislocation primarily due to technical errors; and 9% reoperation for implant removal and midcarpal arthrodesis between 3 and 9 years postoperatively. 10 There is a lack of long-term follow-up using this technique 11 but the biocompatibility of pyrocarbon is well established 12 and one study has suggested that it reduces the progression of osteoarthritis elsewhere in the wrist. 11

29.1.5 Comparison with Other Techniques

Use of the APSI is a lesser intervention and burns fewer bridges than conventional treatment methods (fusion, proximal row carpectomy) and allows for various bailout options including other conventional treatments.

Resection of the Proximal Pole of the Scaphoid and Interposition Materials

Excision of the proximal pole of the scaphoid alone with or without interposition with a “soft” material such as silicone, fascia, or tendon does not prevent progression of osteoarthritis and long-term carpal collapse. 13 , 14 , 15

Use of the APSI appears to give better wrist mobility 11 and function than a scaphoid excision and four-corner fusion. 1 , 8 , 11 Otherwise the pain relief, patient satisfaction, and strength are similar at comparable follow-up. 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 The APSI appears to allow a quicker return of function but has a higher complication rate. 16 , 17 , 18 , 19

Proximal Row Carpectomy (PRC)

The APSI has been reported to give better pain relief, restoration of strength, and patient satisfaction but there is no published comparative study with PRC. 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 In addition, it is a less destructive technique, but the APSI has a higher complication rate. 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 A PRC appears to be less suited to heavy manual workers and to be less durable in younger patients. 18 , 19

Carpal Denervation

The APSI provides better mobility than total carpal denervation (TCD), with better pain relief and wrist function but no difference in strength and patient satisfaction. 20 , 21 , 22 Again, the rate of complications with the APSI is higher.

Rib Cartilage Autograft at the Scaphoid Proximal Pole

Insertion of a rib cartilage autograft to replace the proximal pole of the scaphoid is an attractive treatment option for early stage of radioscaphoid osteoarthritis. This technique takes longer, has risks of donor site morbidity (general anesthesia, pneumothorax), and it seems to give less good results than those of the APSI. 23 , 24 Even at 8 years follow-up, authors found dorsal intercalated segment instability (DISI) in 76% of cases. 24

In summary, we recommend using the APSI in SNAC stages 1 and 2: it is not a very invasive procedure, with a relatively short recovery time. The long-term results seem to remain reasonably good and appear to delay the progression of osteoarthritis. In addition, the procedure does not preclude further salvage procedures. We recommend a concomitant radial styloidectomy in most cases, use of a small implant where there is doubt, and performance of a detailed intraoperative evaluation of mobility and stability under fluoroscopic control.

29.2 Capitolunate Joint Arthroplasty

29.2.1 Introduction

When the capitolunate joint space is destroyed by primary osteoarthritis (OA), osteonecrosis of the capitate head or Fenton’s syndrome (scaphocapitate fracture), an unconstrained capitolunate interposition arthroplasty with a pyrocarbon implant, e.g., Pi2 (pyrocarbon interposition implant) or RCPI (resurfacing capitate pyrocarbon implant) is an option to avoid a partial wrist arthrodesis.

29.2.2 Pi2 and RCPI Implants

The Pi2 ellipsoidal implant is 9 mm thick and comes in two sizes (Fig. 29.6). It was originally intended for treatment of thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) joint arthritis. The RCPI is a one-piece hemiprosthesis for capitate head resurfacing (Fig. 29.7). The truncated spherical head is tilted by 15 degrees and mounted on an intramedullary stem; it is press-fitted into the capitate.

Fig. 29.6 Pyrocarbon interposition implant (Pi2).
Fig. 29.7 Resurfacing capitate pyrocarbon implant (RCPI).

29.2.3 Surgical Technique and Indication

The implants are inserted by a posterior approach with transverse arthrotomy that aims to preserve the continuity of the dorsal intercarpal ligaments. The capitate head is resected by a few millimeters (no more than 5 mm to avoid damaging the extrinsic ligamentous system), and a trial implant is inserted. Similar to the APSI, care should be taken to maintain “normal” carpal alignment clinically and radiologically, particularly the medial carpal space. Typically, a smaller implant is used than for thumb CMC joint OA. The wrist is closed securely to help maintain implant stability especially for implants without a stem. The wrist is supported in a splint/plaster for 2 weeks in neutral and then a removable splint with protected mobilization for the next 4 weeks. From 6 weeks postoperatively the patient is encouraged to move without restriction.

29.2.4 Results in Literature and in Our Experience

The use of a pyrocarbon implant (RCPI) was first reported by Dereudre et al in 2010. 28 They reported good clinical results at 22-month follow-up, but dorsal translation of the distal carpal row relative to the proximal carpal row was noted radiologically. A later study reported encouraging results in a 15-year-old patient followed-up for more than 4 years; he had regained a good range of motion and grip strength and had resumed sport. 29 Our published experience is based on three cases, 30 with a mean follow-up of 4.8 (range 1–8.2) years (Table 29.1). There were improvements in functional scores and pain but not in mobility. So far, we have performed this technique in patients (unpublished) with follow-up of 10 years in one case (Fig. 29.8). Resurfacing of the capitate head using a RCPI implant has been reported following trauma, i.e., Fenton’s syndrome 28 , 31 (Table 29.2). Although the functional results are good, there is little improvement in mobility.

Fig. 29.8 (a, b) Idiopathic necrosis of the capitate head, treated by interposition arthroplasty with a pyrocarbon interposition implant (Pi2) after 10 years follow-up (note the radiodense bone anchor in the scaphoid).

Comparative clinical result of pi2 in capitolunate arthroplasty Table 29.1 Comparative clinical result of Pi2 in capitolunate arthroplasty
Patient 1, age 29: spontaneous osteonecrosis Patient 2, age 23: posttraumatic osteonecrosis Patient 3, age 63: osteoarthritis
preop postop preop postop preop postop
Follow-up (mo) 98 50 24
VAS 6 1 5 1 9 2
Flexion 40 35 70 50 60 50
Extension 30 55 30 45 40 60
RD 20 10 35 30 0 10
UD 20 30 10 20 25 30
Grip 8 12 26 43 12 22
DASH 68.18 25 45.45 25 72.73 2.27
PRWE 62 20 57.5 29 92 19
Abbreviations: DASH, disabilities of the arm, shoulder, and hand; Pi2, pyrocarbon interposition implant; PRWE, patient-related wrist evaluation; RD, radial deviation; UD, ulnar deviation. Note: Age in years; follow-up in months; VAS = visual analog scale 0–10; flexion and extension in degrees; grip strength in kilograms force (kgf).

Clinical results of rcpi for treatment of chronic fenton’s syndrome Table 29.2 Clinical results of RCPI for treatment of chronic Fenton’s syndrome
Patient 1 Age 24 Patient 2 Age 42
Follow-up (mo) 64 48
Grip strength (kgf) 36 (90%) 38 (90%)
Flexion 40 40
Extension 45 50
RD 15 15
UD 35 35
MWS 90 95
DASH 10 12
Abbreviations: DASH, disabilities of the arm, shoulder, and hand; MWS, Mayo wrist score; RCPI, resurfacing capitate pyrocarbon implant; RD, radial deviation; UD, ulnar deviation. Note: Age in years; follow-up in months; flexion and extension in degrees; grip in kilograms force (kgf).

Overall, the indications are more limited, but we believe there is a role in specific cases.

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May 4, 2022 | Posted by in ORTHOPEDIC | Comments Off on 29 Partial Wrist Joint Arthroplasties: APSI, Capitolunate Joint, Pisotriquetral Joint, and Little Finger Carpometacarpal Joint
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