The Posterior Interosseous Nerve at the Proximal Forearm. Anatomical Study and Clinical Correlation

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Daniel Raúl Ballesteros Larrotta; Mónica Alexandra Ramírez Blanco & Luis Ernesto Ballesteros Acuña


The deep branch of the radial nerve (DBRN) runs through the radial tunnel, which is a muscle-aponeurotic structure that extends from the humeral lateral epicondyle to the distal margin of the supinator muscle (SM). The Posterior Interosseous Nerve (PIN) originates as a direct continuation of the DBRN as it emerges from the SM and supplies most of the muscles of the posterior compartment of the forearm. The PIN can be affected by compressive neuropathies, especially at the “Arcade of Frohse”. Its preservation is of special interest in surgical approaches to proximal radius fractures and in compressive syndromes release, for which surgeons must have an adequate anatomical knowledge of its course. This descriptive cross-sectional study evaluated 40 upper limbs of fresh cadavers. The diameters of the DBRN, the length of the radial tunnel, and the distances to the supinator arch, PIN emergence and PIN bifurcation were measured. The deep branch of the radial nerve (DBRN) has a course of 23.8 ± 3.7 mm from its origin to the supinator arch, presenting a diameter of 2.2 ± 0.3 mm at that level. The length of the radial tunnel was 42.2 ± 4 mm. The PIN originated 70.7 ± 3.5 mm distal to the lateral epicondyle. Type I corresponds to the division of the PIN during its journey through the radial tunnel, presenting in 35 % of cases, and Type II corresponds to the division of the PIN distal to its emergence from the radial tunnel presenting in the remaining 65 %. This study enriches the knowledge of the PIN and provides useful reference information on a Latin American mestizo sample. We propose the division pattern of the PIN into two types. Future studies may use this classification not only as a qualitative variable, but also include quantitative morphometric measurements.

KEY WORDS: Radial Nerve; Radial Neuropathy; Nerve Compression Syndromes; Hand Injuries; Anatomy.

How to cite this article

BALLESTEROS, L. D. R.; RAMÍREZ, B. M. A.; BALLESTEROS, A. L. E. The posterior interosseous nerve at the proximal forearm. Anatomical study and clinical correlation. Int. J. Morphol., 41(1):30-34, 2023.