Morphological analysis of the carpal tunnel

Corey A. Pacek, Jie Tang, Robert J. Goitz, Robert A. Kaufmann, Zong Ming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Although carpal tunnel release is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the USA, the morphology of the carpal tunnel as determined previously in the literature has been questioned. Previous methodology has been questioned for accuracy by recent studies. The purpose of this study was to perform a morphological analysis of the carpal tunnel and correlate carpal tunnel and hand dimensions. The carpal tunnels of ten cadaveric specimens were emptied of their contents and a silicone cast of the carpal tunnel was then created. This cast was then digitized, and the dimensions of the carpal tunnel were calculated. These dimensions were compared with the measured hand dimensions of the specimens. The width, depth, tilt angle, length, cross-sectional area, and volume of the carpal tunnel were 19.2 ± 1.7 mm, 8.3 ± 0.9 mm, 14.8 ± 7.8°, 12.7 ± 2.5 mm, 134.9 ± 23.6 mm2, and 1,737 ± 542 mm3, respectively. Width, depth, and cross-sectional area did not change significantly along the length of the carpal tunnel, but tilt angle did. The width of the palm strongly correlates with the width of the carpal tunnel. Other dimensional correlations did not reach statistical significance. The carpal tunnel is of uniform dimension along its length. The long axis of the carpal tunnel in cross-section rotates volarly from the radial side of the hand increasingly with distal progression along the carpal tunnel. Based on our analysis of ten cadaveric specimens, the width of the carpal tunnel may be estimated by the width of the palm using the equation: WidthCT = 1.285+0.236 × Widthpalm

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-81
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomy
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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