Prospective Evaluation of Low-Dose External Beam Radiotherapy (LD-EBRT) for Painful Trapeziometacarpal Osteoarthritis (Rhizarthrosis) on Pain, Function, and Quality of Life to Calculate the Required Number of Patients for a Prospective Randomized Study
Background: Retrospective studies have described the effectiveness of low-dose radiotherapy (LD-EBRT) in painful arthrosis of small finger joints, but two recent prospective studies have yielded ambiguous results. To generate accurate data for the planning of a trial, we conducted a prospective, monocentric, observational study to describe the effects of LD-EBRT as precisely as possible. Methods: Twenty-five consecutive patients with symptomatic trapeziometacarpal (TMC) arthrosis were irradiated with 6 × 0.5 Gy. Before, 3, and 12 months after LD-EBRT, we assessed subjective endpoints (modified “von-Pannewitz score”, 10-point visual analogue scale (VAS), “patient-rated wrist evaluation” (PRWE)), and objective measurements (“active range of motion” (AROM), Kapandji index, grip strength, pinch grip). Results: At 3/12 months, 80%/57% reported partial and 4%/18% complete remission according to the “von-Pannewitz” score. VAS “overall pain” significantly decreased from a median of seven (IQR 4) at baseline to three (IQR 6; p = 0.046) and to two (IQR 2; p = 0.013). Similar results were obtained for VAS “pain during exercise”, VAS “pain during daytime”, and VAS “function”. “PRWE overall score” was reduced from 0.5 at baseline (SD 0.19) to 0.36 (SD 0.24, p = 0.05) and to 0.27 (SD 0.18, p = 0.0009). We found no improvements of the objective endpoints (AROM, Kapandji, grip strength) except for flexion, which increased from 64° (SD 12°) at baseline to 73° (SD 9.7°, p = 0.046) at 12 months. Conclusions: We recommend the PRWE score as a useful endpoint for further studies for this indication. To prove a 15% superiority over sham irradiation, we calculated that 750 patients need to be prospectively randomized.