In vivo scaphoid, lunate, and capitate kinematics in flexion and in extension

J Hand Surg Am. 2000 Sep;25(5):860-9. doi: 10.1053/jhsu.2000.9423.


Carpal kinematics have been previously limited to in vitro models with cadaveric specimens. Using a newly developed markerless bone registration algorithm, we noninvasively studied the in vivo kinematics of the capitate, scaphoid, and lunate during wrist extension and flexion in both wrists of 5 men and 5 women. Computed tomography volume images were acquired in neutral and in 2 positions in both extension and flexion. The 3-dimensional kinematics of the capitate, scaphoid, and lunate relative to the radius were the determined. Scaphoid and lunate rotations differed for flexion and extension but were found to vary linearly with capitate rotation. In flexion the scaphoid contributed 73% of capitate motion and the lunate contributed 46%. In extension the scaphoid contributed 99% of capitate motion and the lunate contributed 68%. Contributions of the scaphoid and lunate to wrist extension were 15% greater than values reported in previous in vitro studies, while scaphoid and lunate contributions to wrist flexion were more similar to previous studies. The findings support a relative "engagement" of the scaphoid, capitate, and lunate during wrist extension. The only difference between male and female kinematics was a more distal location of the rotation axes; we believe this was due to a difference in carpal bone size, not gender. This study reports the 3-dimensional in vivo measurement of carpal motion using a noninvasive technology. This technique may prove useful in the study of more complex motions of the hand and wrist and of the abnormal kinematics that occur following ligamentous injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Carpal Bones / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Lunate Bone / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Scaphoid Bone / physiology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Wrist Joint / physiology