AskDefine | Define metacarpal

Dictionary Definition

metacarpal adj : of or relating to the metacarpus; "metacarpal bones" n : any bone of the hand between the wrist and fingers [syn: metacarpal bone]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Of the metacarpus.



  1. Any of the bones of the metacarpus.


See also

Extensive Definition

The metacarpus is the intermediate part of the hand skeleton that is located between the phalanges (bones of the fingers) distally and the carpus which forms the connection to the forearm. The metacarpus consists of metacarpal bones.

Common characteristics of the metacarpal bones

Each consists of a body and two extremities.


The body (corpus; shaft) is prismoid in form, and curved, so as to be convex in the longitudinal direction behind, concave in front.
It presents three surfaces: medial, lateral, and dorsal.
  • The medial and lateral surfaces are concave, for the attachment of the interosseus muscles, and separated from one another by a prominent anterior ridge.
  • The dorsal surface presents in its distal two-thirds a smooth, triangular, flattened area which is covered in by the tendons of the Extensor muscles. This surface is bounded by two lines, which commence in small tubercles situated on either side of the digital extremity, and, passing upward, converge and meet some distance above the center of the bone and form a ridge which runs along the rest of the dorsal surface to the carpal extremity. This ridge separates two sloping surfaces for the attachment of the Interossei dorsales.
To the tubercles on the digital extremities are attached the collateral ligaments of the metacarpophalangeal joints.


The base or carpal extremity (basis) is of a cuboidal form, and broader behind than in front: it articulates with the carpus, and with the adjoining metacarpal bones; its dorsal and volar surfaces are rough, for the attachment of ligaments.


The head or digital extremity (capitulum) presents an oblong surface markedly convex from before backward, less so transversely, and flattened from side to side; it articulates with the proximal phalanx.
It is broader, and extends farther upward, on the volar than on the dorsal aspect, and is longer in the antero-posterior than in the transverse diameter.
On either side of the head is a tubercle for the attachment of the collateral ligament of the metacarpophalangeal joint.
The dorsal surface, broad and flat, supports the tendons of the extensor muscles; the volar surface is grooved in the middle line for the passage of the Flexor tendons, and marked on either side by an articular eminence continuous with the terminal articular surface.


Besides their phalangeal articulations, the metacarpal bones articulate as follows:
  • the first with the greater multangular;
  • the second with the greater multangular, lesser multangular, capitate and third metacarpal;
  • the third with the capitate and second and fourth metacarpals;
  • the fourth with the capitate, hamate, and third and fifth metacarpals;
  • and the fifth with the hamate and fourth metacarpal.

Additional images

Image:Metacarpus ant.jpg Image:Metacarpus med.jpg
metacarpal in German: Mittelhand
metacarpal in Spanish: Metacarpo
metacarpal in French: Métacarpe
metacarpal in Italian: Metacarpo
metacarpal in Hebrew: עצמות המסרק (כף יד)
metacarpal in Latin: Metacarpus
metacarpal in Lithuanian: Delnakauliai
metacarpal in Hungarian: Kézközépcsont
metacarpal in Dutch: Middenhandsbeen
metacarpal in Portuguese: Metacarpo
metacarpal in Slovak: Záprstná kosť
metacarpal in Slovenian: Dlančnica
metacarpal in Swedish: Metacarpus
metacarpal in Thai: กระดูกฝ่ามือ
metacarpal in Ukrainian: П'ястя
metacarpal in Chinese: 掌骨
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