Floating fat in the wrist joint and in the tendon sheaths

  • Zink Jean-Vincent
  • Argenson Jean-Noël
  • Champsaur Pierre
  • Le Corroller Thomas
  • Parratte Sebastien


A traumatic fat effusion in a tendon sheath is an unreported entity. We report on the clinical and imaging features, including radiography and computed tomography (CT), of a fat-density effusion in the wrist joint and tendon sheaths of the extensor pollicis longus, extensor carpi radialis longus, and extensor carpi radialis brevis in a 28-year-old patient after a roller-skating accident. Radiographs showed a fracture of the distal radius and a wrist joint effusion. Preoperative CT examination exhibited two distinct layers resulting in a fat-fluid level pathognomonic of lipohemarthrosis in the radiocarpal joint. In addition, a fat-density effusion was noted in the sheaths of the second and third compartment extensor tendons. The lipohemarthrosis depicted on imaging classically results from the extrusion of fat from bone marrow into the joint space after an intraarticular fracture. Similarly, a traumatic fat effusion in a tendon sheath presents characteristic imaging features that may help to diagnose a potentially overlooked fracture.