Purpose: To develop a method for in-vivo kinematic study of normal forearm rotation using computed tomographic (CT) images and a custom apparatus which allows for control of amount of forearm rotation. Methods: The forearm of one asymptomatic volunteer was CT-scanned in five positions: neutral, 60° pronation, maximal pronation, 60° supination, and maximal supination. Surface registration of the pronated/supinated image datasets with the neutral position was performed. The resulting transformation matrices were decomposed into finite helical axis (FHA) parameters. Kinematics were expressed as motion of the radius relative to the ulna. Results: The axes of the forearm passed through the volar region of the radial head at the proximal radioulnar joint (PRUJ), extending towards the dorsal region of the ulnar head at the distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ). Distinct FHAs were calculated for each forearm position analyzed relative to neutral rotation. Forearm pronation FHAs were different from forearm supination FHAs. Conclusions: Our experimental methodology is capable of describing the in-vivo kinematics of the forearm with good accuracy and reliability. Future in-vivo studies would need to be performed using a larger sample size to further validate our preliminary results. An ideal clinical application of this methodology would be in the comparative study of patients with forearm dysfunction.
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