Wrist anatomy: Incidence, distribution, and correlation of anatomic variations, tears, and arthrosis

Steven F. Viegas, Rita M. Patterson, James A. Hokanson, Jay Davis

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180 Scopus citations


We dissected 393 wrists to evaluate the incidence and distribution of anatomic features, arthrosis, chondromalacia, and soft tissue lesions. The data were then analyzed for any statistically significant associations among the different variables. The most common (73%) lunate morphology had a separate medial facet on its distal surface for the hamate. The capitate had a separate facet for the fourth metacarpal in 86% of the wrists. Fourth metacarpals with a dorsal radial facet, either separate from or connected to the rest of the fourth metacarpal base, were the most common types of fourth metacarpal. Cartilage erosion with exposed subchondral bone was identified in 58% of the wrists. It was most commonly at the proximal pole of the hamate (28%). Tears of the ligaments and/or the triangular fibrocartilage complex were identified in 56% of the wrists. The triangular fibrocartilage complex was found torn in 36% of the wrists. The lunotriquetral interosseous ligament was torn in 36% of the wrists, and the scapholunate interosseous ligament was torn in 28% of the wrists. There was a communication between the proximal wrist joint and the pisotriquetral joint in 88% of the 76 wrists, which were further dissected to assess this issue. Statistical analysis of the data found a significant correlation between the presence of cartilage erosion at the proximal pole of the hamate and the presence of a lunate facet. There was also a significant correlation between the presence of a tear in the scapholunate interosseous ligament and the presence of cartilage erosion in the scaphoid-trapezium-trapezoid joint. Analysis of the paired wrists from 169 cadavers revealed that the same soft tissue tear or combination of tears was present bilaterally in 39% of the pairs. Cartilage erosion was present bilaterally in the same location or locations in 27% of the pairs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-475
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1993


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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