Laxity of the anterior oblique ligament (AOL) and/or the dorsoradial ligament (DRL) are believed to contribute to the progression of osteoarthritis in the trapeziometacarpal joint through increased dorsal subluxation. Stress radiographs during functional tasks, such as key pinch, can be used to evaluate such joint instability. Cadaveric experiments can explore joint contact pressures as well as subluxation under varying conditions, to gain knowledge about joint mechanics. The disturbance of supporting tissues, such as the joint capsule, during experiments may affect the recorded stability of the joint. To evaluate potential effects of opening the joint capsule and severing the AOL, eleven cadaveric specimens were rigged to simulate key pinch. An anteroposterior (AP) radiograph of the hand was recorded for each specimen while intact, after partially opening the joint capsule and after sectioning the AOL. First metacarpal subluxation levels were compared between the intact joint, partially open joint capsule, and sectioned AOL. Neither opening the joint capsule nor cutting the AOL had a statistically significant effect on metacarpal subluxation. The results indicate that partially opening the joint capsule has a negligible effect on joint mechanics and support recent studies that postulate that the AOL plays a less substantial role in preventing subluxation.
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