Architectural design of the human intrinsic hand muscles

Mark D. Jacobson, Rajnik Raab, Babak M. Fazeli, Reid A. Abrams, Michael J. Botte, Richard L. Lieber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


The architectural features of twenty different muscles (18 intrinsics and 2 thumb extrinsics, n = 180 total muscles) were studied. Muscle length, mass, fiber pennation angle, fiber length, and sarcomere length were determined. From these values, physiologic cross-sectional area and fiber length/muscle length ratio were calculated. Intrinsic muscle lengths were relatively similar to one another, which we interpreted as representing a space constraint within the hand. However, several specialized architectural designs were observed: lumbrical muscles had an extremely high fiber length/muscle length ratio, implying a design toward high excursion. The first dorsal interosseous and adductor pollicis had physiologic cross-sectional areas comparable to those of extrinsic muscles and much greater than those of the other intrinsic muscles. The interosseous muscles had relatively high physiologic cross-sectional areas with low fiber length/muscle length ratios, suggesting their adaptation for high force production and low excursion. Taken together, these observations illustrate the underlying structural basis for the functional capacities of the intrinsic muscles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)804-809
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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