Gerrit J. Van de Pol MD, Maarten J. Koudstaal MD, Arnold H. Schuurman MD, PhD, and Ronald L.A.W. Bleys MD, PhD
Department of Pharmacology and Anatomy, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Centre Utrecht, and Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Purpose Because our experience with the techniques used in denervation surgery of the wrist joint often has proven insufficient in treating chronic pain we conducted an anatomic study to clarify the exact contributions of the nerves supplying the wrist joint. Our goal was to reveal all periosteal and capsular nerve connections and if necessary adjust our technique used in denervation surgery.
Methods Innervation of the wrist joint was investigated by microdissection and histologic examination of 18 human wrists. An acetylcholinesterase method was used to identify the nerves, both in whole-mount preparations and in sections.
Results We found that the main innervation to the wrist capsule and periosteal nerve network came from the anterior interosseous nerve, lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve, and posterior interosseous nerve. The palmar cutaneous branch of the median nerve, the deep branch of the ulnar nerve, the superficial branch of the radial nerve, and the dorsal branch of the ulnar nerve also were found to have connections with the capsule. The periosteal nerve branches did not appear to play a major role in the innervation of the capsule and ligaments; here the specific articular nerve branches proved more important. The posterior and medial antebrachial cutaneous nerves did not connect to the wrist capsule or periosteum but rather terminated in the extensor and flexor retinaculum.
Conclusions Based on our findings we propose to denervate the wrist by making 2 incisions. With one palmar and one dorsal incision it should be possible to disconnect the periosteum from the capsule and interrupt the majority of the capsular nerve branches.
The Journal of Hand Surgery. Volume 31, Issue 1 , January 2006, Pages 28-34.