Background: The purpose of this study was to describe the natural history of Kienböck disease among patients who elected to proceed with nonoperative treatment. Methods: The authors performed a retrospective study of all patients treated nonoperatively for Kienböck disease within their institution from January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2014. Inclusion criteria included follow-up greater than 1 year, serial posteroanterior and lateral wrist radiographs, and clinical examination. Posteroanterior/lateral radiographs were independently reviewed at initial presentation and at final follow-up, including Lichtman stage, carpal index, Stahl index, ulnar variance, and intercarpal angles. Results: Twenty-five patients with 25 wrists were included (mean age, 50.2 years), with an average length of clinical follow-up of 3.9 years and a mean length of radiographic follow-up of 5.2 years. There was no significant difference in range of motion; however, patient-reported pain was significantly decreased, and modified Mayo wrist scores and grip strength were increased. Lichtman stage, scapholunate angle, and radioscaphoid angle were increased; and carpal index, posteroanterior lunate ratio, and Stahl index were decreased across the study period. The mean progression in Lichtman stage was 0.5 stage/year with a range of 0 to 1.6 stages/year throughout the study period. There was no significant difference in Lichtman stage progression based on stage at presentation. A history of smoking was associated with increased radiographic disease progression. Conclusion: The present study demonstrates that among patients with Kienböck disease managed nonoperatively, the majority of patients significantly improve over time with respect to pain, grip strength, and Mayo wrist score, despite radiographic progression of disease. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Risk, IV.
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