Tendon grafts are often needed in reconstructive surgery. A donor tendon is usually selected for transfer because it is thought to be nonessential in its original location. This is the case with the palmaris longus (PL) and plantaris muscles (P) that are found to be frequently missing without any adverse effects. The literature reports that plantaris should be present in about half of those who do not have the PL muscle, and further states that the absence of the PL appears to be related with the absence of plantaris. Both remain the key choices for tendon harvest. Although the frequency, structure and function of these muscles have been well described in the literature, little attention has been given to the description of their simultaneous occurrence. The aim of this study was to compare the macroscopic structures of PL and P in a South African population and to compare the data found to that reported in the literature. Secondly,to determine if an absence of PL correlates with an absence of P, in a cadaver population. The muscles were dissected out along the entire course in a sample of 150 cadavers. Information regarding the length and width of these muscles’ fleshy belly and tendons were measured, as well as the demographic information for each cadaver was recorded. Preliminary results show that the length of the P tendon is longer than tendon of the PL muscle, and the width of the PL tendon is wider than the P. The absence of the PL muscle does not correlate with an absence of the P muscle in the same individual. If tendon length is favoured for grafting in reconstructive surgery, the P is used, and the PL is preferred when width is important.
Poster presented at the University of Pretoria Health Sciences Faculty Day, August 2009, Pretoria, South Africa