Background: The superficial palmar arch (SPA) and deep palmar arch (DPA) provide the dominant vascular supply to the hand. The SPA is considered to be highly variable and can be classified as either complete or incomplete. The simplest definition states that the anastomosis between the vessels contributing to the arch represent a complete arch, while an incomplete arch is described as characterised by an absence of anastomosis between the vessels contributing to it. This study aimed to describe the anatomical landmarks, formation and branching patterns of the SPA and DPA. In this study, the SPA and DPA were dissected in 50 specimens (n = 100 adult hands), respectively.
Materials and methods: A complete SPA was observed in 92% of specimens and classified into three types. In Type A (44%), the SPA was formed by the anastomosis of the superficial palmar branch of the radial artery with the ulnar artery. Type B (46%) was formed by the ulnar artery alone and Type C (2%) was formed by anastomosis of the ulnar artery with the superficial palmar branch of the radial artery and the persistent median artery.
Results: An incomplete SPA was observed in 8% of the specimens and divided into three types formed by the radial and ulnar arteries. The DPA was divided into five types viz. Type G (72%), where the DPA was formed by anastomosis of the deep palmar branch of the radial artery (DPBRA) with the deep palmar branch of the ulnar artery (DPBUA). Type H (12%), was formed by anastomosis of the DPBRA, the DBUA and the interosseous artery. Type I (8%), was formed by the anastomosis of the DPBRA with the superior and inferior DPBUA. Type J (4%), the deep ulnar artery had two branches whereby either one branch anastomosed with the DPBRA to form the DPA. Type K (4%), the DBUA exhibited two deep branches with one branch anastomosing with the DPBRA to complete the DPA.
Conclusions: The interosseous artery anastomosed with either the DPA or the additional DPBUA. Knowledge of the variability of the SPA and DPA is crucial for safe and successful hand surgeries.