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Trapezium fractures

Patrice Eiff, MD
Section Editor
Karl B Fields, MD
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


Upper extremity injuries, including carpal fractures, are common reasons for visits to primary care offices and emergency departments. Carpal fractures are incurred through both major and minor trauma and clinicians should be familiar with the basic principles involved in diagnosis and management.

This topic reviews fractures of the trapezium in adults. An overview of carpal fractures in adults is presented separately. (See "Overview of carpal fractures".)


Upper extremity fractures are among the most common of the extremity injuries with carpal fractures accounting for 18 percent of hand fractures and 6 percent of all fractures [1,2]. Of these, fractures to bones of the distal carpal row (ie, trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, hamate) are less frequent than fractures of bones in the proximal row (ie, scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, and pisiform).

Fractures of the trapezium account for 1 to 5 percent of all carpal fractures [2-4]. Trapezium injuries often occur in association with other injuries, such as fracture dislocations of the first metacarpal (Rolando and Bennett injuries), first metacarpophalangeal dislocations, scaphoid fractures, and distal radius fractures. Isolated trapezium fractures are uncommon. (See "First (thumb) metacarpal fractures" and "Metacarpal base fractures" and "Scaphoid fractures" and "Distal radius fractures in adults".)


The trapezium is on the radial side of the distal carpal row, and is the carpus that articulates distally with the thumb metacarpal and proximally with the scaphoid and the trapezoid (image 1 and figure 1 and figure 2). The trapezium forms a saddle articulation with the base of the thumb metacarpal. A longitudinal ridge is present on the volar surface, which serves as attachment for the transverse carpal ligament. A detailed discussion of wrist anatomy is provided separately. (See "Anatomy and basic biomechanics of the wrist".)


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Literature review current through: Apr 2016. | This topic last updated: Aug 28, 2014.
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