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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Finger joint motion generated by individual extrinsic muscles: A cadaveric study

Ashish D Nimbarte, Rodrigo Kaz and Zong-Ming Li*

Author Affiliations

Hand Research Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2008, 3:27  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-3-27

Published: 11 July 2008



Our understanding of finger functionality associated with the specific muscle is mostly based on the functional anatomy, and the exact motion effect associated with an individual muscle is still unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine phalangeal joints motion of the index finger generated by each extrinsic muscle.


Ten (6 female and 4 male) fresh-frozen cadaveric hands (age 55.2 ± 5.6 years) were minimally dissected to establish baseball sutures at the musculotendinous junctions of the index finger extrinsic muscles. Each tendon was loaded to 10% of its force potential and the motion generated at the metacarpophalangeal (MCP), proximal interphalangeal (PIP), and distal interphalangeal (DIP) joints was simultaneously recorded using a marker-based motion capture system.


The flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) generated average flexion of 19.7, 41.8, and 29.4 degrees at the MCP, PIP, and DIP joints, respectively. The flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) generated average flexion of 24.8 and 47.9 degrees at the MCP and PIP joints, respectively, and no motion at the DIP joints. The extensor digitorum communis (EDC) and extensor indicis proprius (EIP) generated average extension of 18.3, 15.2, 4.0 degrees and 15.4, 13.2, 3.7 degrees at the MCP, PIP and DIP joints, respectively. The FDP generated simultaneous motion at the PIP and DIP joints. However, the motion generated by the FDP and FDS, at the MCP joint lagged the motion generated at the PIP joint. The EDC and EIP generated simultaneous motion at the MCP and PIP joints.


The results of this study provide novel insights into the kinematic role of individual extrinsic muscles.