The anatomy and vascularity of the lunate: considerations applied to Kienböck's disease

C. Lamas, A. Carrera, I. Proubasta, M. Llusà, J. Majó, X. Mir

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the anatomy and vascularity of the lunate. The genesis of lunatomalacia requires some combination of vascular risk and mechanical predisposition. The findings will be correlated with the major existing theories of the cause of Kienböck's disease. Methods: We studied 27 cadaver upper limbs using latex injection and the Spalteholz technique. We investigated the blood supply to the lunate. In 24 wrists we evaluated the incidence and distribution of anatomic features, arthrosis, and soft tissue lesions. We correlated the lunate morphology and ligaments disruptions with the arthritic changes. Results: The lunate morphology results as classified by Antuña-Zapico were five type I (20.8%), 18 type II (75%) and one type III (4.2%). The lunate was found to have a separate facet for the hamate in 11 cases (45.8%). The most common size of the facet was found to be 3 mm (range, 3-6 mm). Arthrosis was identified with most frequency in the radius (88.2%) and lunate (94.1%). The triangular fibrocartilage complex was found torn in 58.3%, the lunotriquetral interosseous ligament was torn in 20.8% and the scapholunate interosseous ligament (SLIL) was torn in 54.2% of the wrists. There was a correlation between the presence of arthrosis at the hamate and the presence of a lunate facet (P = 0.027) and a correlation between the presence of a tear in the SLIL and arthrosis in the scaphoid (P = 0.002). The nutrient vessels entered the lunate through the dorsal and volar poles in all the specimens. The dorsal intercarpal and radiocarpal arches supply blood to the lunate from a plexus of vessels located directly over the lunate's dorsal pole. Vessels entered the dorsal aspect of the lunate through one to three foramina. One to five nutrient vessels were observed entering the volar pole through various ligament insertions, including the ligament of Testut-Kuentz (radio-scapho-lunate (RSL) ligament) and the radiolunate triquetrum ligament (or dorsoradial carpal ligament) and ulnar lunate triquetral ligament. Conclusions: The lunate had consistent dorsal and palmar arteries entering the bone in all the specimens. The blood supply and foramina number is greater in the volar pole of the lunate than the dorsal pole. The lunate blood supply comes from different ligaments. In the etiopathogeny of Kienböck's disease it is possible that an acute or chronic, traumatic or non-traumatic injury of the vessel bearing ligaments, particularly because of their structure and the location of the RSL ligament, may have an important role in the appearance of lunate necrosis. © 2007 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
JournalChirurgie de la Main
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2007


  • Anatomy of the lunate
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Kienböck's disease
  • Spalteholz technique
  • Vascularity of the lunate


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