The radius is the lateral bone of the forearm moreover is homologous to the medial bone of the leg, the tibia.

Parts

The radius is a long bone and is composed of three parts: upper end, shaft, and lower end.

Upper End

The upper end provides head, neck, and radial tuberosity. The head is disc shaped and articulates above along with the capitulum of humerus. The neck is constricted part below the head. The radial tuberosity is just below the medial portion of the neck.

Shaft

The long shaft extends between the upper and lower ends and provides a lateral convexity. It widens rapidly towards the distal end and is concave anteriorly in its distal part. Its sharpest interosseous border is located on the medial side.

Lower End

The lower end is the widest part and provides five surfaces. The lateral surface projects distally as the styloid process. The dorsal surface provides a palpable dorsal tubercle (Listers tubercle), which is limited medially by an oblique groove.

Anatomical Position And Side Determination

The side of radius can be identified by keeping the bone vertically in such a manner that:

  • The narrow disc-shaped end ( head) is directed upwards.
  • The sharpest border (interosseous border) of the shaft is kept medially.
  • The styloid process at the lower end is directed laterally and prominent tubercle (Listers tubercle) at lower end faces dorsally.
  • The convexity of shaft faces laterally, and concave anterior surface of shaft faces anteriorly.

Features And Connections

Upper End

Head

  • It is formed like a disc and in living it is covered by an articular hyaline cartilage.
  • It articulates superiorly along with capitulum to create humero-radial articulation.
  • The circumference of head is smooth and articulates medially along with the radial notch of ulna, rest of it is surrounded by the annular ligament.

     

Neck

  • It is the constricted part just below the head and is embraced by the lower part of annular ligament.
  • The quadrate ligament is connected to the medial side of the neck.

     

Radial tuberosity

  • Biceps tendon is inserted to its rough, posterior part.
  • A small synovial bursa covers its smooth anterior part and separates it from the biceps tendon.

Shaft

The shaft has three borders and three surfaces.

Borders

Anterior border

  • It starts off below the anterolateral part of radial tuberosity and runs downwards and laterally to the styloid process.
  • The upper part of this border is referred to as anterior oblique line and lower part forms the sharp lateral border of the anterior surface.
  • Its anterior oblique line provides origin to radial head of flexor digitorum superficial (FDS).

     

Posterior border

1. It is well-defined only in its middle third of the shaft.

2. Above it runs upwards and medially to the radial tuberosity and makes the posterior oblique line.

Medial (interosseous) border

  • It is the sharpest border.
  • It extends above up to radial tuberosity and below its lower part forms the posterior margin of the small triangular area on the medial side of the lower end of the bone.
  • nterosseous membrane is connected to its lower three- fourth.

Surfaces

Anterior surface

  • It is concave and is located between anterior and interosseous borders.
  • Flexor pollicis longus emerges from its upper two-fourth.
  • Pronator quadratus is inserted on its lower one-fourth.
  • Nutrient foramen appears a little above the middle of this surface in its upper part. The nutrient canal is directed upwards. Nutrient artery for radius is a branch from anterior interosseous artery.

     

Posterior surface

  • It is located between the interosseous and posterior borders.
  • Abductor pollicis longus (APL) comes up from the middle one-third of this surface.
  • Extensor pollicis brevis (EPB) comes up from lower part of this surface.

     

Lateral surface

  • It is located between anterior and posterior borders.
  • Supinator is inserted on the widened upper one-third of this surface.
  • Pronator teres is inserted on the rough area in the most convex middle part of this surface.

Lower End

The lower end is the widest portion of the bone and has five surfaces.

Anterior surface: The anterior surface provides a thick ridge, which provides connection to palmar radio-carpal ligament of wrist joint.

Posterior surface: The posterior surface provides the dorsal tubercle of Lister lateral to the groove for the tendon of extensor pollicis longus. It also provides grooves for other extensor tendons.

The groove lateral to the Lister’s tubercle is traversed by tendons of extensor carpi radialis longus (ECRL) and extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB). Through the groove medial to groove for extensor pollicis longus passes tendons of extensor digitorum and extensor indicis.

Medial surface: The medial surface provides the ulnar notch for articulation with the head of ulna. Articular disc of inferior radio-ulnar joint is connected to the lower margin of ulnar notch.

Lateral surface: The lateral surface projects downward as the styloid process and is associated to tendons of adductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis. The brachioradialis is inserted to the base of styloid process and radial collateral ligament of wrist joint is connected to the tip of styloid process.

Inferior surface: The inferior (distal) surface provides a lateral triangular area for articulation along with the scaphoid and a medial quadrangular area for articulation with the lateral components of the lunate.

Ossification

The radius ossifies from the following three centres:

  1. One primary centre shows up in the mid-shaft during 8th week of 1UL.
  2. Two secondary centres, one for each end:
  3. Centre for lower end shows up at the age of first year.
  4. Centre for upper end shows up during fifth year.
  5. The upper epiphysis merges at the age of 12 years.
  6. The lower epiphysis merges at the age of 20th year.

Clinical Significance

Fracture of radius : The radius is a weight-bearing bone of the forearm; for this reason fractures of radius are more frequent than ulna.

  • In fracture shaft of radius, with fracture line below the insertion of biceps and above the insertion of pronator teres the upper fragment is supinated by supinator and lower fragment is pronated by the pronator teres.
  • In fracture at the distal end of radius (Colles’ fracture) the distal fragment is displaced backwards and upwards. The opposite of Colles’ fracture is referred to as Smith’s fracture.
  • Fracture of styloid process of radius is termed ‘Chauffeur’s fracture’.

    Madelung deformity: It is a congenital defect of radius which provides the following clinical features: The anterior bowing of distal end of radius, as a result of an abnormal growth of distal epiphysis. It occurs between 10 and 14 years of age. There is premature disappearance of distal epiphyseal line. There may be subluxation or dislocation of distal end of ulna, because of defective development of distal radial epiphysis.