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Innervation Patterns of the Lumbrical Muscles of the Foot in Human Fetuses

Betül Asena Kara MSc, Deniz Uzmansel MD, PhD, and Orhan Beger MSc
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Background

We sought to describe the innervation patterns of the foot lumbrical muscles and their morphological properties in human fetuses and to define the communicating branches between the medial (MPN) and lateral (LPN) plantar nerves, which play a part in the innervation of those muscles.

Methods

Thirty formalin-fixed fetuses (13 male and 17 female) with a mean ± SD gestational age of 25.5 ± 3.8 weeks (range, 18–36 weeks) from the inventory of the Mersin University Faculty of Medicine Anatomy Department were bilaterally dissected. Innervation patterns of the lumbrical muscles and the communicating branches between the MPN and the LPN were detected and photographed.

Results

No variations were seen in lumbrical muscle numbers. In the 60 feet, the first lumbrical muscle started directly from the flexor digitorum longus tendon in 48 and from the flexor hallucis longus slips in addition to the flexor digitorum longus tendon in 12. Fifty-five feet had the classic innervation pattern of the lumbrical muscles, and five had variations. No communicating branches were seen in 48 feet, whereas 12 had connections.

Conclusions

This study classified innervation patterns of the foot lumbrical muscles and defined two new innervation types. During surgeries on the foot and ankle in neonatal and early childhood terms, awareness of the communicating branches between the MPN and the LPN and innervation of the intrinsic muscles of the foot, such as the lumbrical muscles, might aid in preventing possible complications.

Department of Anatomy, Mersin University Faculty of Medicine, Mersin, Turkey.

Corresponding author: Orhan Beger, MSc, Department of Anatomy, Mersin University Faculty of Medicine, Ciftlikkoy Campus, 33343, Mersin, Turkey. (E-mail: obeger@gmail.com)