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J Biomech. 2001 Nov;34(11):1429-38.

In vivo kinematic behavior of the radio-capitate joint during wrist flexion-extension and radio-ulnar deviation.

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Division of Engineering, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.


The capitate is often considered the "keystone" of the carpus, not simply because of its central and prominent position in the wrist, but also because of its mechanical interactions with neighboring bones. The purpose of this study was to determine in vivo three-dimensional capitate kinematics. Twenty uninjured wrists were investigated using a recently developed, non-invasive markerless bone registration (MBR) technique. Surface contours of the capitate, third metacarpal and radius were extracted from computed tomography images of seven wrist positions and the three-dimensional motions of the capitate and third metacarpal were calculated with respect to the radius in wrist flexion-extension and radio-ulnar deviation. We found that in vivo capitate motion does not simply occur about a single pivot point like a universal joint, as demonstrated by non-intersecting rotation axes for different capitate motions. The distance between flexion and ulnar deviation axes was 3.9+/-2.0 mm, and the distance between extension and ulnar deviation axes was 3.9+/-1.4 mm. Furthermore, capitate axes for males tended to be located more distally than axes for females. However, we believe that this result is related to subject size and not to gender. We also found that there is minimal relative motion between the capitate and third metacarpal during these in vivo wrist motions. These findings demonstrate the complexity of capitate kinematics, as well as the different mechanisms through which wrist flexion, extension, radial deviation and ulnar deviation occur.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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