The Role the Dorsal Intercarpal Ligament in Dynamic and Static Scapholunate Instability

Hiromichi Mitsuyasu, Rita M. Patterson, Munir A. Shah, William L. Buford, Yokihide Iwamoto, Steven F. Viegas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Purpose: Scapholunate instability (SLI) is the most common carpal instability. Recent studies have suggested that the dorsal intercarpal (DIC) and the dorsal radiocarpal ligaments play an important role in stabilization of the scaphoid and lunate. Differences between dynamic SLI and static SLI with a dorsal intercalated segment instability (DISI) are clearly described in the clinical literature; however, there has never been a clear explanation of the anatomic differences. This study describes the role of the DIC in the development of dynamic and static SLI with DISI in a cadaver model. Methods: Five fresh cadavers were studied radiographically and by 3-dimensional digitization. Six increasing stages of instability were developed by sectioning progressively the following structures: the dorsal capsule, the palmar and proximal (membranous) portion of the scapholunate interosseous ligament, the DIC from its insertion on the scaphoid and trapezium, the dorsal scapholunate interosseous ligament from the scaphoid, the DIC ligament from its attachment on the lunate, and the lunotriquetral interosseous ligament. Results: The scaphoid position and the scapholunate gap changed significantly after sectioning the entire scapholunate interosseous ligament and DIC from the scaphoid when a 5-kg load was applied. The lunate position was unchanged in both the loaded and the unloaded conditions. After detaching the DIC from the lunate, both the scaphoid and lunate moved and the scapholunate gap increased significantly in both loaded and unloaded conditions and showed a DISI deformity. Conclusions: This study describes an anatomic difference between dynamic and static scapholunate instability. Complete disruption of the scapholunate ligament did not result in the development of a static collapse of the lunate. The DIC had an important role in stabilizing the scaphoid and lunate and preventing DISI deformity. This study suggests that in the clinical setting the DIC ligament should be assessed intraoperatively and consideration should be given to repair and/or reconstruction of the DIC ligament attachments to both the scaphoid and the lunate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-288
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Dorsal intercarpal (DIC) ligament
  • Dynamic
  • Scapholunate instability
  • Static


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