The clinical surface anatomy anomalies of the palmaris longus muscle in the Black African population of Zimbabwe and a proposed new testing technique

H Gangata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of the palmaris longus muscle (PLM) is highly variable. Rates of absence vary from 0.6% in the Korean population to as high as 63.9% in the Turkish population. The tendon of PLM may be absent on one or both forearms, may have duplicated tendons on one forearm or may be laterally shifted to the extent that the tendon of the PLM lies superficial to that of flexor carpi radialis muscle. Among Black American populations, in which there is usually mixed ancestry, rates of absence are 3.5%. Only two studies have been performed on Black African populations: in Republic of Congo and Uganda, and each showed widely differing rates of absence of 3.0% and 14.6%, respectively. In this study, a total of 890 Black Zimbabwean subjects in Harare aged between 8 and 13 years, were examined for clinical surface anatomy anomalies of the tendon of PLM. The results showed that the tendon of the PLM was absent unilaterally in 0.9% of the population, and bilaterally absent in 0.6% with an overall rate of absence of 1.5%. Other variations noted were a laterally shifted PLM in 1.1% of subjects and duplicated tendons on one forearm, which was the least prevalent anomaly, in 0.2% of subjects. The author proposes a new technique to test the tendon of PLM, which combines resisted thumb abduction and resisted wrist flexion. The proposed technique capitalizes on the role of the PLM as an important abductor of the thumb.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-235
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

Cite this