Human carpal ligament recruitment and three-dimensional carpal motion

H.H.C.M. Savelberg, J.G.M. Kooloos, A. Lange, de, H.W.J. Huiskes, J.M.G. Kauer

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In five fresh human cadaver wrist joints six carpal ligaments and seven carpal bones were marked with small, radio-opaque pellets. Using a roentgenstereophotogrammetric measuring system, the ligamentous length changes and the kinematics of carpal bones were determined in different flexion and deviation positions of the hand. The data generated by this method differ significantly from lengthening data predicted by current concepts on carpal ligament functioning. The motions of carpal bones and the lengthening of the carpal ligaments were related to each other. It appeared that most carpal ligaments lengthen only during one half of a full movement cycle. Hence, ligaments seem to constrain either a dorsal- or a palmar-directed motion of the hand, or an ulnar- or a radial-directed motion of the hand. When the hand is in maximal radial deviation or maximal palmar flexion, none of the ligaments has a greater length than in the neutral situation. The tested parts of the lunatotriquetrum palmar ligament do not lengthen during any movement of the hand. Significant lengthening relative to the neutral situation was found for the radiocapitate palmar ligament (6.5% in maximal ulnar deviation and 11.7% in maximal dorsal flexion of the hand), and for the distal string of the radiolunate palmar ligament (6.4% in maximal ulnar deviation). It was confirmed that the carpals, apart from moving in the plane in which the hand motion takes place, also execute considerable out-of-plane motions during hand motions. The combination of these experimentally and simultaneously determined data on length change and on the movements of carpal bones are found to be necessary in order to give suitable explanations for the observed separate kinematical phenomena. [Author abstract; 22 Refs; In English]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-704
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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