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MR imaging of the major carpal stabilizing ligaments: normal anatomy and clinical examples.

The integrity of the ligamentous network of the wrist is critical, as disruption of this network may result in carpal instability and pain. The extrinsic (radiocarpal) and intrinsic (intercarpal) ligaments that maintain carpal stability can be evaluated with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. The major extrinsic ligaments are the radioscaphocapitate, radiolunotriquetral, short radiolunate, and dorsal radiocarpal ligaments. The scapholunate and lunotriquetral ligaments are the most important intrinsic ligaments and the primary wrist stabilizers. The most common causes of carpal instability are unstable fracture of the scaphoid, scapholunate dissociation, and lunotriquetral dissociation. Carpal instability can be diagnosed from the sagittal MR image that includes the capitate, lunate, and radius and from the sagittal MR image that includes the scaphoid and radius. Knowledge of the MR imaging appearances of the major carpal stabilizing ligaments and common patterns of carpal instability allows more precise diagnosis in cases of wrist pain.

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