An Anatomic and Biomechanic Study of the Wrist Extensor Retinaculum Septa and Tendon Compartments

Akira Iwamoto, Randal P. Morris, Clark Andersen, Rita M. Patterson, Steven F. Viegas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: The anatomy of the extensor retinaculum of the wrist has been described previously; the purpose of this study was to describe the specific anatomy of the septal attachments on the radius and to investigate the mechanical strength of each septal attachment on the radius and each of the 6 compartments of the extensor retinaculum. Methods: Thirty-four wrists from 24 fresh-frozen and 10 embalmed cadavers were used. First, anatomic measurements of the individual extensor retinaculum septums were performed with calipers and a 3-dimensional digitizer. Next each extensor retinaculum septum was excised as a bone-retinaculum-bone autograft and was tested in tension to failure with a materials testing machine. Finally the 6 extensor retinaculum compartments were tested to failure. Results: Septum 1/2 had the largest radial surface area and septum 3/4 had the smallest. Septum 1/2 also was found to have the highest failure strength at 51.3 ± 15.3 N. In compartment testing, compartments 1 and 2 had the highest overall resistance to failure and compartment 5 had the lowest. Compartment 6, which was thought to be the weakest because of clinically observed subluxation of the extensor carpi ulnaris tendon, had stronger failure data than expected. Conclusions: This study offers detailed analysis of the extensor retinaculum compartments and 3-dimensional anatomy of the septal attachments. Clinically this study lends insight to the strength of bone-retinaculum-bone autografts and the etiology of extensor carpi ulnaris subluxation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-903
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • 3-dimensional anatomy
  • Extensor retinaculum
  • septal attachments
  • tendon compartments
  • wrist biomechanics


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