Distribution of Nerve Endings in the Human Dorsal Radiocarpal Ligament

Kazunari Tomita, Evelyn J. Berger, Richard A. Berger, Jirachart Kraisarin, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the nerve-ending apparatus populations within a large number of adult human dorsal radiocarpal (DRC) ligaments to test the hypothesis that the majority of nerve endings could be grouped into established classifications and that the nerve endings could be found in predictable locations within the substance of the ligament. Methods: The DRC ligaments were harvested from 20 wrists of 10 fresh cadavers with an average age of 75.6 years within 12 to 18 hours of death. Before the tissues were harvested, radiographs were taken to exclude any arthritic conditions of the wrists. Tissues were fixed, sectioned with a cryostat, and serial sections were collected on glass slides. Slides were processed for fluorescence immunohistochemistry using antibody to protein gene product 9.5 and a secondary antibody conjugated to a fluorescent tag (Alexa Fluor 488). The sections were evaluated with an LSM-510 confocal laser microscope and a Kontron KS 400 image analyzer. Labeled nerve endings were counted, mapped, and reconstructed. Results: The average number of nerve endings in each DRC ligament was 10.1 ± 4.7. More than 76% of the nerve endings were found in the 2 ends of the ligament with 23.3% in the central third and approximately 80% distributed in the superficial layer. More than 80% of the nerve endings were discovered in the epiligamentous sheath rather than in the perifascicular spaces. Conclusions: The distribution of the nerve endings follows a consistent pattern. These results will provide a foundation of morphologic information useful in understanding normal and abnormal neural control of wrist joint mechanics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-473
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Mechanoreceptors
  • fluorescence
  • immunohistochemistry
  • nerve endings
  • wrist ligament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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