The clinical implications of the oblique retinacular ligament

Joshua M. Adkinson, Shepard P. Johnson, Kevin C. Chung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The oblique retinacular ligament originates from the flexor tendon sheath, courses past the proximal interphalangeal joint, and merges with the lateral extensor tendon. There has been disagreement regarding the contribution of the oblique retinacular ligament to coordinated movements between the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints. Landsmeer postulated that it acts as a dynamic tenodesis that tightens with proximal interphalangeal joint extension, causing obligatory distal interphalangeal joint extension. However, studies have shown that the oblique retinacular ligament is variably present and often attenuated, which diminishes its presumed role in finger movement. Despite this, the concept of a checkrein linking interphalangeal joint motion heralded the development of effective and reproducible surgical interventions for swan-neck and mallet deformities. This article examines the controversy regarding the existence of the oblique retinacular ligament, its plausible functionality, and clinical implications in the practice of hand surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-541
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Oblique retinacular ligament
  • mallet finger
  • swan-neck

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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