12 adult cadaver wrists were dissected to identify the regions of origin of the four palmar radiocarpal ligaments. A non-dimensionalized value, called the radio-carpal ligament ratio (RLR), was defined as the width of ligament origin from the radius divided by the length of the capitate. Both values were measured directly from radiographs of the cadaver specimens. The RLRs for the four palmar radio-carpal ligaments were found to be statistically consistent. We applied the RLR concept retrospectively to 20 wrists with intraarticular distal radius fractures requiring open reduction. It was found that those fracture patterns in which the fracture fragment ratios (FFR: widths of the fracture fragments divided by the length of the capitate) were outside the limits of corresponding RLRs had clear intra-operative evidence of palmar radio-carpal ligament disruption, while those with FFRs within the limits of corresponding RLRs were noted to have no ligament disruption.
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