Preoperative Computer Simulation and Patient-specific Guides are Safe and Effective to Correct Forearm Deformity in Children

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Abstract

Background:

Posttraumatic and congenital forearm deformities in children can be difficult to appreciate in all planes. In cases of distal radioulnar joint instability and loss of forearm rotation, surgical correction is challenging. Advances in 3-dimensional printing allow creation of custom guides at a reasonable cost, enabling precise correction of the deformity in all planes.

Methods:

Nineteen children with deformity of the forearm had corrective osteotomies performed using preoperative 3-dimensional computer modeling and patient-specific surgical guides. Surgicase software was used for 3-dimensional planning of the corrective osteotomy, by superimposing a mirror image of the unaffected side as a template. Based upon this planning, patient-specific surgical guides were manufactured. Radiographic and clinical outcomes were assessed.

Results:

Three patients had a diagnosis of multiple hereditary exostoses, and one of Madelung’s deformity. The remaining 15 patients had a diagnosis of fracture malunion. Average preoperative angulation of both the radius and ulna was 23 degrees. For the patients with fracture malunions, the time from injury to surgery ranged from 6 months to 8 years. Twelve patients underwent osteotomies of both the radius and ulna, 5 had osteotomies of the radius alone, and 2 had a single osteotomy of the ulna only. All osteotomies went on to unite and no patient lost range of motion. Preoperative arc of forearm rotation averaged 101 degrees (range 0 to 180 degrees). Postoperatively, this improved to 133 degrees (range 85 to 180 degrees). Eight patients had distal radioulnar instability preoperatively, all of which normalized after surgery. There were 4 complications: 1 hypertrophic scar, 1 subject with extensor pollicis longus weakness, and 2 transient sensory losses in the superficial radial nerve distribution.

Conclusions:

This case series demonstrates that 3-dimensional computer modeling permits complex and multiple osteotomies to be done safely to achieve deformity correction in children. Limitations in forearm rotation and distal radioulnar malalignment can be reliably improved using this technique.

Level of Evidence:

Level IV—retrospective case series.

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