The sensory distribution in the dorsum of the hand: anatomical study with clinical implications

Sara Sulaiman, Roger Soames (Lead / Corresponding author), Clare Lamb

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    Abstract

    The sensory distribution in the dorsum of the hand was investigated in 150 formalin-fixed hands with the aim of outlining the most common innervation pattern of the superficial branch of the radial nerve (SBRN), dorsal branch of the ulnar nerve (DBUN) and the lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve (LABCN). Although variable, the most common pattern found was SBRN innervation to the dorsal surface of the lateral 2½ digits and DBUN innervation to the dorsal surface of the medial 2½ digits. Dual innervation due to communicating branches or nerves overlapping was found in 41 cases. All-radial supply to the dorsum of the hand was found in ten cases. The LABCN was closely associated, and occasionally overlapped, with the SBRN. There were significant differences in the sensory distribution of the dorsum of the right and left hands of the same cadaver. The sensory distribution in the dorsum of the hand is variable; however, understanding the most common innervation pattern and appreciating the possible variations to this pattern is important to avoid errors in interpretation of conduction velocity studies, misdiagnosis of nerve pathology signs and symptoms and inappropriate treatments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)779-785
    Number of pages7
    JournalSurgical and Radiologic Anatomy
    Volume37
    Issue number7
    Early online date9 Jan 2015
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

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    Keywords

    • Cutaneous innervation
    • Dorsal branch of the ulnar nerve
    • Dorsum of the hand
    • Superficial branch of the radial nerve

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