Original Editor- Mande Jooste

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Description[edit | edit source]

Latin: "Os capitatum"

Capitate (derived from the latin word caput[1] that means 'head') is the largest and most central carpal bone, that forms the wrist.

Capitate hand.gif
Capitate bone.png

Structure/location[edit | edit source]

The capitate can be found in the distal row of carpal bones, where it articulates with the bases of the 2nd and 3rd metacarpal bones forming part of the common carpometacarpal joint.

The carpal bones are connected with inter carpal ligaments and the superiorly the capitate is covered by the flexor retinaculum.[2]

Function[edit | edit source]

Articulations[edit | edit source]

The capitate articulates with seven other bones:

  • Proximal surface: Scaphoid and Lunate
  • Distal surface: base of 2nd and 3rd metacarpal; variably the capitate can also articulate with the base of the 4th metacarpal bone.
  • Lateral surface: Trapezoid
  • Medial surface: Hamate

Muscle attachments[edit | edit source]

M.adductor pollicis; oblique head[3]

Clinical relevance[edit | edit source]

Due its anatomical location, isolated capitate injuries are uncommon. Fractures can be seen in association with scaphoid fractures, distal radius fractures or lunate injuries.[4]

The capitate, similar to the scaphoid have limited blood flow, vascular necrosis should be ruled out post-injury.

Clinical features[edit | edit source]

Patient will complain of dorsal wrist pain, which will correspond with tenderness on palpation of the dorsal aspect. Pain can be increased with axial load of the 3rd metacarpal.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Capitate. Available from: (accessed 22/02/2019).
  2. Wadsworth CT. Clinical anatomy and mechanics of the wrist and hand. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports physical Therapy 1983;4(4):206-216
  3. Orthopaedics One. Capitate. Available from: (accessed 23/02/2019).
  4. Titus SJ, Deitche WS. The sport medicine resource manual. Chapter 18. Wrist and Hand fractures. Elsevier, 2008.