The Dorsal Ligament Complex: A Cadaveric, Histology, and Imaging Study


      The distinction between the dorsal intercarpal (DIC) and dorsal scaphotriquetral (DST) ligaments is imprecise and unclear in the literature. The purpose of our cadaveric study was to define the origins, insertions, and anatomic relationships of the dorsal wrist ligaments and relate these anatomic findings to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and histology.


      The study included 17 unmatched fresh-frozen cadaveric specimens (7 male and 10 female), with a mean age of 67.1 years (range, 48–86 years). Wrists with arthritis or carpal malalignment were excluded. Ligaments were dissected and insertion sites were recorded in the radioulnar (width) and proximodistal (length) dimensions, centered at the midpoints of the insertion. Three cadaveric specimens underwent a histologic analysis to demonstrate ligament composition and insertion sites. Three additional cadavers underwent MRI, from which 3-dimensional models were built to model ligament topography.


      The conjoined triquetral insertion of the DIC, DST, and dorsal radiocarpal (DRC) measured 88.5 ± 6.4 mm2. In each specimen, there were 2 distinct deep and superficial components of intercarpal fibers. The deep component inserted on the lunate with an area of 59.0 ± 5.0 mm2. The deep and superficial components diverged as they coursed radially. The superficial component proceeded to the scaphoid ridge, trapezium, and trapezoid, whereas the deep component inserted on the proximal row. The deep fibers blended distally from their lunate insertion with the DST, forming a robust, 2.9 ± 0.8-mm wide extension over the dorsal capitate. The DRC inserted on the lunate, proximal to the DIC and DST insertions, with an area of 23.9 ± 5.4 mm2.


      The dorsal ligament complex forms a firm link across the proximal carpal row and the DST provides extension of the proximal row over the capitate.

      Clinical relevance

      This information can guide surgeons while performing a dorsal approach to the wrist and repairing traumatic ligament disruption.

      Key words

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