Axial oblique MR imaging of the intrinsic ligaments of the wrist: initial experience

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ObjectiveTo evaluate two separate MR sequences acquired in the axial oblique plane, parallel to the long axis of the scapholunate (SL) and lunotriquetral (LT) ligaments, to determine whether the addition of these sequences to the standard MR wrist examination improves visualization of the intrinsic ligaments, and the evaluation of their integrity. To our knowledge, this plane has not been described in the literature previously.Design and patientsIn total we evaluated 26 patients with chronic wrist pain or instability, referred for MR imaging following assessment by an orthopedic surgeon or physiatrist. All patients underwent initial conventional tri-compartment wrist arthrography, which served as the reference standard. This was immediately followed by MR arthrography, in the standard coronal and true axial planes, as well as in the axial oblique plane. The SL and LT ligaments were initially assessed for the presence or absence of tear, using the standard coronal and true axial sequences, and subsequently re-evaluated with the addition of the axial oblique planes.ResultsA total of ten intrinsic ligament tears were identified with conventional arthrography: six SL and four LT tears. Five of the six SL tears were identified on the standard sequences. All six were diagnosed with the addition of the oblique sequences. There were three false-positive SL tears identified using standard MR imaging, and two false-positives with the addition of the oblique sequences. No LT tear was identified on standard sequences, whereas all four were confidently seen with the addition of oblique images. No false-positives of the LT ligament were recorded with either standard or axial oblique sequences.ConclusionThe study suggests that the addition of axial oblique MR sequences helps identify tears to the intrinsic ligaments of the wrist, particularly the LT ligament. In addition, the axial oblique images assist in localization of the tear.

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