Perilunate and lunate dislocations result when great force is applied to a hyperextended wrist. They usually result from a fall on an outstretched hand or occur in a motor vehicle crash. Perilunate dislocations are more common than lunate dislocations.
These dislocations cause pain, swelling, and deformity in the wrist and proximal hand.
If a perilunate or lunate dislocation is not diagnosed and treated promptly, complications can develop. They include
Median nerve injury
Avascular necrosis of the scaphoid or lunate and deterioration of the joint (scapholunate advanced collapse).
(See Overview of Dislocations Overview of Dislocations A dislocation is complete separation of the 2 bones that form a joint. Subluxation is partial separation. Often, a dislocated joint remains dislocated until reduced (realigned) by a clinician... read more .)
Diagnosis of Perilunate and Lunate Dislocations
Plain x-rays (anteroposterior, lateral, and oblique views) are taken. To avoid missing the diagnosis, clinicians should assess the relationship between the radius, lunate, and capitate bones on a true lateral view.
In a perilunate dislocation, the capitate is not vertically aligned with the lunate and radius on a lateral view of the wrist. The lunate and radius remain correctly aligned.
In a lunate dislocation, the lunate is rotated out of alignment into a spilled teacup configuration.
Treatment of Perilunate and Lunate Dislocations
Closed reduction and splinting
Usually surgical repair
Treatment of both perilunate and lunate dislocations is closed reduction and splinting in the emergency department. Both the wrist and elbow should be immobilized in the neutral position (eg, with a sugar tong splint Sugar Tong Splint ).
Patients should be immediately referred to an orthopedic surgeon; most dislocations must be surgically repaired because function is better after surgical repair.
Perilunate and lunate dislocations usually result from a fall on an outstretched hand or occur in a motor vehicle crash.
Treat these dislocations promptly to prevent complications (eg, nerve damage, deterioration of the joint).
Diagnose by plain x-rays (anteroposterior, lateral, and oblique views), with particular attention to the relationship between the radius, lunate, and capitate bones on a true lateral view.
Reduce manually and splint the wrist and elbow in the neutral position.
Refer patients immediately to an orthopedic surgeon because most of these dislocations must be surgically repaired to optimize function.