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Progressive avascular necrosis of lunate
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Progressive avascular necrosis of lunate

Contributors: Bowen Qiu MD, Danielle Wilbur MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Causes / typical injury mechanism: Avascular necrosis of the lunate bone, also known as Kienböck disease, leads to eventual collapse and loss of architecture of the carpal bones, leading to advanced wrist arthritis.

Classic history and presentation: This presents as insidious, progressive wrist pain with a history of trauma but negative x-rays in the past.

  • Age – This is most common in men between the ages of 20 and 40 years.
  • Sex / gender – Male predominance.
Risk factors:
  • Ulnar negative wrist variance, which leads to increased radial-lunate contact stress
  • Decreased radial inclination
  • Repetitive trauma
Grade / classification system:
Lichtman classification
  • I: Changes on MRI only
  • II: Sclerotic changes in the lunate
  • IIIA: Collapse of lunate with NO scaphoid rotation
  • IIIB: Collapse of lunate with fixed scaphoid rotation
  • IV: Degenerative changes seen in the intercarpal joints
Bain and Begg classification (used in arthroscopy)
  • 0-4 based on the number of articular surfaces that are involved and are "nonfunctional"


M87.039 – Idiopathic aseptic necrosis of unspecified carpus

787484007 – Progressive avascular necrosis of lunate

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Fractures, especially of the scaphoid.
  • Kienböck disease is rare and is often a diagnosis of exclusion in the early stages.

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Last Reviewed:03/03/2021
Last Updated:09/27/2022
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Progressive avascular necrosis of lunate
Copyright © 2023 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.