What is a distal anatomy

Anatomy of the access routes to the distal radius


Basics: The preparation of the access routes to the distal radius is made difficult by the special anatomy of the tendons, tendon sheaths, muscles, vessels and nerves.

Methodology: The standard approaches with anatomical landmarks and the errors and dangers of soft tissue preparation are presented.

Results: The dorsal, dorso-radial and volar access to the distal radius are considered to be standard approaches, although other special dorsal approaches are used for certain issues. In particular, the endangerment of the superficial branch of the radial nerve with percutaneous techniques and external fixation is emphasized.

Conclusions: With appropriate knowledge of the anatomy, a safe preparation of the region of the distal radius is usually possible without any problems, whereby anatomical variants as well as difficult preparations after previous interventions (metal removal) must be taken into account.


Background: The dissection of surgical approaches to the distal radius is difficult, due to the special anatomic features of tendons, tendon sheaths, muscles and neuro-vascular structures.

Methods: The standard approaches with anatomic landmarks, pitfalls and dangers of dissection are reviewed.

Results: The dorsal, dorso-radial and volar approaches are the standard approaches to the distal radius. However, special dorsal dissections are performed in special cases. Using percutaneous or external fixation techniques, the superficial branch of the radial nerve is at risk for iatrogenous lesions. This problem is especially focused.

Conclusions: Knowledge of the anatomic specialties is an important precondition for dissection of the distal forearm region without any risk. Anatomic variations and difficult dissections subsequent to former surgical procedures have to be considered.

further reading

  1. (1)

    Bauer R, Kerschbaumer F, Poisel S: Surgical approaches in orthopedics and traumatology. Stuttgart-New York, Thieme, 1990.

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    Pechlaner S, Hussl H, Kerschbaumer F: Hand surgery atlas. Stuttgart-New York, Thieme, 1998.

    Google Scholar

  3. (3)

    Schmit-Neuerburg KP, Towfigh H, Letsch R: in Tscherne H. (Ed): trauma surgery. Elbow, forearm, hand. Vienna, Springer, 2001.

    Google Scholar

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Author information


  1. Anatomical Institute of the Karl-Franzens-University, Graz

    N. P. Tesch, G. Windisch & A. Weiglein

  2. University Clinic for Trauma Surgery, Auenbruggerplatz 7a, A-8036, Graz

    W. Grechenig, N. P. Tesch, G. Windisch & A. Weiglein

Corresponding author

Correspondence to W. Grechenig.

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Cite this article

Grechenig, W., Tesch, N.P., Windisch, G. et al. Anatomy of the access routes to the distal radius. Eur. Surg.34, 1-6 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02947677

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  • anatomy
  • distal radius
  • Access routes


  • Anatomy
  • distal radius
  • approaches