Extensor Compartments and Extensor Zones of the Hand

Extensor Compartments

There are a whole lot of wrist/finger extensors trying to fit in the wrist and anatomically these are divided into 6 compartments.

  1. First compartmentit’s this that is affected in de Quervain tenosynovitis
    • APL (abductor pollicis longus): attaches to 1st MC
    • EPB (extensor pollicis brevis): attaches to base of proximal phalanx
  2. Second compartment
    • ECRB (extensor carpi radialis brevis): attaches to 3rd MC
    • ECRL (extensor carpis radialis longus): attaches to 2nd MC
  3. Third compartment
    • EPL (extensor pollicis longus): passes around Lister’s tubercle of radius and inserts on distal phalanx of thumb (extends thumb IPJ)
  4. Fourth compartment – the posterior interosseus nerve lies on the floor of this compartment
    • EDC (extensor digitorum communis): no direct attachment to phalanx, attaches to the extensor expansions
    • EIP (extensor indicis proprius): lies ulnar to 1st EDC tendon)
  5. Fifth compartment
    • EDM (extensor digiti minimi): attaches to extensor expansion of little finger
  6. Sixth compartment
    • ECU (extensor carpi ulnaris): attaches to base of 5th MC

Extensor Zones

  • Zone I: over the DIP (this is where mallet finger injuries occur)
  • Zone II: middle phalanx
  • Zone III: over the PIP
  • Zone IV: proximal phalanx
  • Zone V: over the MCP
  • Zone VI: dorsum of hand/metacarpals
  • Zone VII: over the extensor retinaculum/carpals
  • Zone VIII: proximal wrist

Juncturae Tendinum

  • This is the connections of fascia between the EDC tendons and why you can’t stick your ring finger up alone, as it prevents independent movement.
  • It can also lead to confusion about whether an extensor tendon has been cut as the juncture tendinum transmits MCP joint extension even if a tendon is cut (as long as it’s cut distal to the JT)
  • But it’s also helpful as it prevents the cut tendon from retracting up into the forearm
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