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J Anat. 1993 Jun;182 ( Pt 3):361-8.

Vasomotor innervation of the skin of the hand: a contribution to the study of human anatomy.

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Department of Neurology, Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland 97210.


The sympathetic vasomotor innervation of the skin of the human hand was studied in 47 subjects who underwent local anaesthetic block of ulnar, median or radial nerves at elbow or wrist levels. Areas of cutaneous anaesthesia were compared with cutaneous territories of paralytic vasodilatation delineated by infrared telethermography. It was found that: (1) during ulnar nerve block the area of vasodilatation matched the area of anaesthesia in all 15 cases; (2) median nerve block induced paralytic vasodilatation which, in 14 of 15 cases, matched the area of cutaneous anaesthesia in median territory, but also extended to the unanaesthetised lateral part of the dorsum of the hand; (3) no vasodilatation developed during radial nerve block in 17 of 18 cases, whereas areas of sympathetic sudomotor paralysis matched the area of radial sensory loss in all 5 subjects in whom sweating function was studied. It is concluded that: (1) the ulnar nerve supplies vasomotor fibres to its cutaneous sensory territory, no less and no more; (2) the median nerve normally provides supplementary vasomotor innervation to the skin of the radial aspect of the dorsum of the hand; (3) the radial nerve supplies sudomotor innervation for the lateral aspect of the dorsum of the hand, but (4) does not normally contribute vasomotor sympathetic fibres to the skin of the hand.

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