Editor's choice| Volume 44, ISSUE 11, P928-938, November 2019

The Vascular Anatomy of the Scaphoid: New Discoveries Using Micro–Computed Tomography Imaging

Published:September 19, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsa.2019.08.001


      The purpose of this study was to investigate the intraosseous vascular anatomy of the scaphoid using recent advances in micro–computed tomography (micro-CT) imaging and 3-dimensional reconstruction. We also studied the effect of scaphoid shape and screw position on the intraosseous vascular structure.


      Thirteen upper extremities were injected with a contrast agent. The scaphoid bones were extracted and scanned using a micro-CT scanner. The vascular impact of screw insertion at various axes through the scaphoid was calculated and compared using the generated 3-dimensional models. The specimens were 3-dimensionally–printed and the morphology was assessed according to bone dimensions. A relationship between the internal vascular patterns and these morphological features was determined.


      All specimens received vascular inflow from the dorsal ridge forming a vascular network that supplied an average of 83% of the bone’s volume. This network was supplemented in 4 specimens with volar vessels entering at the waist. Another network was identified, created by vessels entering volarly at the tubercle, which supplied the remainder of the scaphoid. One specimen did not receive any vessels at the tubercle. With regards to screw placement, screws placed in the central axis were the least disruptive to the internal vascularity, followed by the antegrade (dorsal) insertion axis. Two morphological bone types were identified: type I or full scaphoids and type II or slender scaphoids. Type I possessed a more robust internal vascular network than type II scaphoids.


      This study identifies 2 distinct types of scaphoid morphology with 1 of them having a less robust blood supply, which may prove to be related to development of nonunion, avascular necrosis, or Preiser disease. Central axis and antegrade (dorsal) screw fixation may be least disruptive to the internal blood supply.

      Clinical relevance

      Safer fixation of the scaphoid bone may be achieved by knowledge of intraosseous vascular patterns.

      Key words

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