Dorsal Tilt of the Distal Radius Fracture Changes With Forearm Rotation When Measured on Radiographs

Janni Jensen*, Hans B. Tromborg, Benjamin S.B. Rasmussen, Oke Gerke, Trine Torfing, Helle Precht, Ole Graumann

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose: This study examined the impact of pronation and supination on the reliability of the radiographically measured values of dorsal tilt, radial inclination (RI), and ulnar variance (UV) in cadaveric forearms with artificially created distal radius fractures. Methods: We prepared 21 human cadaveric forearms (11 right and 10 left) for radiostereometric analysis (RSA) by insertion of tantalum markers. Distal radius fractures were created midway between the marker segments. Radiographs and RSA images were taken at different degrees of supination and pronation. The precise degree of forearm rotation was calculated using RSA software. Two observers (H.B.T. and T.T.) independently measured tilt, RI, and UV on all radiographs in a blinded and randomized fashion. Univariate linear regression analyses were used to determine the relationship between forearm rotation and the measured radiographic values. Results: The radiographically measured value of tilt was significantly impacted by forearm rotation. Supinating or pronating the forearm by 10° decreased and increased, respectively, the radiographic value of dorsal tilt by approximately 3°. Conclusions: This study showed that the positioning of the fractured forearm during the radiographic procedure significantly impacted subsequent radiographic measurements of tilt. Dorsal tilt measurements increased (ie, fracture displacement measured more dorsal) with pronation and decreased (ie, fracture displacement measured more toward neutral, with less dorsal tilt) with supination of the forearm. However, measurements of RI (p = 0.12 and p = 0.55 for observer 1 and 2) and UV (p = 0.34 and p = 0.17, observer 1 and 2) were not significantly impacted by rotation. Clinical relevance: Treatment of a distal radius fracture is, at least to some extent, based on radiographic quantification of fracture deformity. Therefore, unreliable measurements may adversely influence clinical decision making.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery Global Online
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)182-189
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Accuracy
  • Distal radius fracture
  • Dorsal tilt
  • Radiostereometric analyses
  • RSA


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