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Anatomical Study of the Innervation of Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex and Distal Radioulnar and Radiocarpal Joints: Implications for Denervation

      Purpose

      Open and percutaneous denervation is an emerging technique for joint pain. This study investigated the course and distribution of the articular branches innervating the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC), distal radioulnar joint (DRUJ), and radiocarpal joint (RCJ) relative to bony and soft tissue landmarks to guide wrist denervation procedures.

      Methods

      Fourteen formalin-embalmed specimens were serially dissected to expose the origin, course, and distribution of articular branches innervating the TFCC, DRUJ, and RCJ. Bony and soft tissue landmarks to localize each articular branch were documented and visualized on a 3-dimensional reconstruction of the bones of the distal forearm and hand.

      Results

      The TFCC was innervated by articular branches from the posterior interosseus nerve (10 of 14 specimens), dorsal cutaneous branch of the ulnar nerve (14 of 14 specimens), palmar cutaneous branch of the ulnar nerve (12 of 14 specimens), and medial antebrachial cutaneous nerve (9 of 14 specimens). The DRUJ was innervated by the posterior interosseus nerve (9 of 14 specimens) and anterior interosseus nerve (14 of 14 specimens). The RCJ was innervated by the posterior interosseus nerve (14 of 14 specimens), superficial branch of the radial nerve (5 of 14 specimens), lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve (14 of 14 specimens), and palmar cutaneous branch of the median nerve (10 of 14 specimens).

      Conclusions

      Multiple nerves were found to innervate the TFCC, DRUJ, and RCJ. The relationship of anatomical landmarks to specific articular branches supplying the TFCC, DRUJ, and RCJ can inform selective denervation procedures based on the structural origin of pain.

      Clinical relevance

      The detailed documentation of the spatial relationship of the nerve supply to the wrist provides clinicians with the anatomical basis to optimize current, and develop new denervation protocols to manage chronic wrist pain.

      Key words

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