Architecture of selected muscles of the arm and forearm: Anatomy and implications for tendon transfer

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

284 Scopus citations


The architectural features of twenty-one different forearm muscles (n = 154 total muscles) were studied. Muscles included the extensor digitorum communis to the index, middle, ring, and small fingers, the extensor digit quinti, the extensor indicis proprius, the extensor pollicis longus, the flexor digitorum superficialis, the flexor digitorum profundus, the flexor pollicis longus, the pronator quadratus, the palmaris longus, the pronator teres, and the brachioradialis. Muscle length, mass, fiber pennation angle, fiber length, and sarcomere length were determined with the use of laser diffraction techniques. From these values, physiologic cross-sectional area and fiber length/muscle length ratio were calculated. The individual digital extensor muscles were found to be relatively similar in architectural structure. Similarly, the deep and superficial digital flexors were very similar architecturally, with the exception of the small finger flexor digitorum superficialis, which was much smaller and shorter than the rest of the digital flexors. The brachioradialis and the pronator teres had dramatically different architectural properties. While the masses of the two muscles were nearly identical, the muscles had significantly different predicted contractile properties based on their different fiber arrangement. The brachioradialis, with its long fibers arranged at a small pennation angle, had a physiologic cross-sectional area that was only one third that of the pronator teres, with its short fibers that were more highly pennated. Using these architectural data and the statistical method of discriminant analysis, we provide additional information that might be useful in the selection of potential donor muscles to restore thumb flexion, thumb extension, finger extension, and finger flexion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-798
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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