Vascular anatomy of the thenar eminence: its relevance to a pedicled or free thenar flap
Background: The aim of this study was to clarify the arterial supply of the skin covering the prominent part of the thenar eminence in order to describe the possibility and potential for harvesting a pedicled or a free flap from the thenar eminence. Materials and methods: The arteries were studied in 30 post-mortem specimens of human hands; 3 previously perfused with 4% formaldehyde solution, and injected with black India ink, and 27 injected with methyl-methacrylate and afterwards corroded in 40% potassium hydroxide solution. Results: In all hands we found two little palmar arteries coming from the anatomical snuff-box portion of the radial artery. We labelled the first (proximal) branch as the middle thenar artery, because it supplies the middle third of the thenar eminence skin. Its diameter varied from 0.25 to 0.55 mm (mean 0.4 mm). The distal, more prominent branch of the radial artery, vascularised the lateral third of the thenar eminence skin, and was named the lateral thenar artery; its diameter ranged from 0.40 to 0.90 mm (mean 0.67 mm). The superficial palmar branch of the radial artery, always present, was classified as: hypoplastic, average or prominent, with a diameter ranging from 0.8 to 2.7 mm (mean 1.47 mm). Conclusions: Three individually developed branches of the radial artery supplied the skin of the thenar eminence. Cutaneous branches of these three arteries were interconnected via anastomotic vessels.
lateral thenar artery, middle thenar artery, superficial palmar branch, thenar eminence