The purpose of this study was to investigate the sex-based differences in the carpal arch morphology. Carpal arch morphology was quantified using palmar bowing and area of the arch formed by the transverse carpal ligament. The carpal arch was imaged at the distal and proximal tunnel levels using ultrasonography in 20 healthy young adults (10 women and 10 men). It was found that females had a smaller carpal arch height compared to men at both distal and proximal levels (p<0.05) and smaller carpal arch width only at the proximal level (p<0.05) but not distally. Palmar bowing index, the carpal arch height to width ratio, was significantly smaller in females at the distal level (p<0.05) but not at the proximal level. Carpal arch cross-sectional area normalized to the wrist cross-sectional area was found to be significantly smaller in females at both tunnel levels compared to men (p<0.05). This study demonstrates that females have a smaller carpal arch compared to men with a reduced palmar bowing distally and a smaller arch area at both tunnel levels. The findings help explain the higher incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome in women as a smaller carpal arch makes the median nerve more vulnerable to compression neuropathy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas