Surgical Exposures of the Radius and Ulna


J Am Acad Orthop Surg, Vol 19, No 7, July 2011 Louis W. Catalano, III, MD, Dan A. Zlotolow, MD, Phillip B. Hitchcock, Suparna N. Shah, MBA and O. Alton Barron, MD The forearm contains many muscles, nerves, and vascular structures that change position on forearm rotation. Exposure of the radial shaft is best achieved with the Henry (volar) or Thompson (dorsal) approach. The volar flexor carpi radialis approaches are used increasingly for exposure of the distal radius. Although the dorsal approach is a safe utilitarian option with many applications, its use for managing fracture of the distal radius has waned. Potential complications associated with radial exposure include injury to the superficial branch of the radial nerve, the lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve, and the cephalic vein. Dorsal and ulnar proximal radial exposures are associated with increased risk of injury to the posterior interosseous nerve. With surgical exposure of the ulna, care is required to avoid injuring the dorsal cutaneous branch of the ulnar nerve.

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