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J Hand Surg Am. 1991 Jan;16(1):82-90.

Carpal orientation from computed reference axes.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of South Florida, Tampa.


Carpal instability is usually diagnosed by abnormal two-plane radiographic angles. These angles are often unreliable. A method that eliminates interpretation of overlapping shadows and uses all of the carpal geometry should improve clinical diagnoses. The digital data from computed tomography scans can be manipulated to describe the carpal orientation in the normal wrist. The digital data from the computed tomography scans of twenty-two normal wrists were used to compute distances with and without directions between the volumetric centroids of the carpal bones. An expansion technique also extracted from the computed tomography data an orthogonal set of vectors, the principal axes. The first principal axis describes the longest dimension of each bone. The average angle produced by the first principal axes of the scaphoid and lunate was 23.6 degrees, scaphoid and capitate was 73.2 degrees, and the capitate and the lunate was 93.5 degrees. These computations represent new carpal axes and intercarpal angles that are not related to the commonly measured two-plane radiographic angles. They should prove helpful in the study of kinematics and pathomechanics in the wrist joint.

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