The Course of the Terminal Posterior Interosseous Nerve and Its Relationship with Wrist Arthroscopy Portals

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The terminal branches of the posterior interosseous nerve (PIN) are the main articular branch on the dorsal aspect of the wrist. Its relationship to dorsal wrist arthroscopic portals has not yet been elucidated. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively describe the anatomical relationships between the dorsal wrist arthroscopic portals and the PIN.


Dorsal wrist arthroscopic portals were established in 28 cadaver extremities, after which the limbs were dissected. Measurements were taken from the portals to the PIN.


The PIN passed ulnar to the 3/4 portal with a mean distance of 4.8 mm (range: 1.2-12.0, standard deviation [SD] = 2.6). The PIN passed radial to the 4/5 portal with a mean interval of 9.0 mm (range: 3.8-12.7, SD = 2.3). The main trunk of PIN or its closest terminal branch was a mean of 7.2 mm (range: 0.0-13.2 mm, SD = 3.1) radial to the midcarpal radial (MCR) portal. In 2 of the 28 specimens, one terminal branch of PIN lay directly over this portal. The distance between the midcarpal ulnar (MCU) portal and the PIN or its closest terminal branch was only a mean of 1.6 mm (range: 0-6.4 mm, SD = 2.0). In 15 of the 28 specimens, the PIN lay directly over the MCU portal, or the portal was located between the terminal branches of PIN.


The MCU portal was the most precarious, due to the close proximity of PIN and its terminal branches. The 3/4 and MCR portals were also at risk, while the 4/5 portal was relatively safe for the PIN.

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