Purpose of the study
The absence of a medical treatment capable of successfully arresting joint destruction due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) leaves a large domain for surgical treatment. The purpose of our work was to determine whether a clinical benefit persists in the long term (more than 20 years) despite aggravation of the radiological lesions, after surgical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis of the wrist.
Material and methods
Sixteen patients (13 women and 3 men), mean age 65 years), with RA were reviewed a mean 24.8 years (range 2033 years) after wrist surgery. Twenty-four wrists were operated for dorsal synovectomy (n = 18) and Swanson radiocarpal implant (n = 6). Total arthrodeses were excluded. Clinical, functional and standard and stress x-ray data were collected at last follow-up.
Residual pain at last follow-up in wrists which had undergone dorsal synovectomy was scored 3.1/10 on the VAS versus 5.6 preoperatively. Three-quarters of the patients stated they were satisfied with the intervention despite very weak force. Revision surgery was required in eight patients after dorsal synovectomy including three which required resection of the ulnar head, left in place after the first surgery, and three for removal of a silicon implant of the ulnar head. This implant was rapidly abandoned in our unit (as in other units). The radiological status worsened in all wrists over time, despite synovectomy. For the Swanson radiocarpal implant, residual pain was only 0.5/10 versus 6.7 preoperatively. Four implants fractured and four developed radiological signs of siliconitis with not clinical expression. Despite these complications, five of the six patients felt favorably about their intervention and the mean Leclerc function score was 78/100. Flexion-extension was 56° on average. The main complaint was the lack of force.
There is a discordance between radiological and clinical results, a difference which widens with longer follow-up. A clear improvement in the pain score and the moderate functional demands of these patients are probably the reasons for their satisfaction despite radiological degradation. Many desire more wrist force. Our indications have evolved over time with the development after 1980 of the radiolunar arthrodesis procedures that we associate with dorsal synovectomy even in early-stage patients in order to limit radiological degradation and ulnar translation of the carpus. Swanson radiocarpal implants were complete abandoned in 1987 despite favorable clinical results due to the radiological degradation with bone loss and risk of siliconitis. For Simmen III wrists, total arthrodesis remains the only sure and definitive solution.
© 2005 Elsevier Masson SAS. Tous droits réservés.