Ossification centers of the wrist

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 20 Oct 2020

Ossification of the wrist can be divided into two components:

Ossification of the carpal bones

Ossification of the carpal bones occurs in a predictable sequence, starting with the capitate and ending with the pisiform.

At birth, there is no calcification in the carpal bones. Although there is great individual variability, approximate ossification times are as follows 1:

Excluding the pisiform, a handy way to remember the order of ossification is to start at the capitate then move in an anti-clockwise direction on the volar surface of the right carpus.

Ossification centers of the distal radius and ulna

  • distal radius: 1 year
  • distal ulna: 5-6 years

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: carpal ossification
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  • Figure 2: hand ossification centers (Gray's illustrations)
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  • Figure 3: radius ossification centers (Gray's illustration)
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  • Figure 4: ulna ossification centers (Gray's illustration)
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