Superficial Radial Nerve

Written by Atilla Emin

Last updated October 14, 2023 • 10 Revisions

The superficial radial nerve is a sensory nerve branch of the radial nerve that arises in the cubital fossa.

It supplies sensory cutaneous innervation to the lateral portion of the dorsum of the hand.

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Course

The superficial radial nerve originates in the cubital fossa as the radial nerve divides into superfical and deep branches at the level of the lateral epicondyle.

It continues down the anterior aspect of the forearm, lateral to the radial artery, and concealed in a plane between the brachioradialis and pronator teres muscles.

About 7cm proximal to the wrist, it pierces the deep fascia of the forearm to wind around the radius, pass over the anatomical snuffbox, and branch off into the dorsum of the hand.

Fig 1
The superficial branch of the radial nerve.

Fig 2
Dorsal course of the supeficial radial nerve in the distal forearm and hand.

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Sensory Functions

The superficial radial nerve is a purely cutaneous sensory nerve. It has four dorsal digital branches which supply:

  • Dorsal skin on lateral side of the hand
  • Proximal dorsal surfaces of the thumb, index, and lateral half of the middle finger.

Fig 3
The cutaneous innervation of the radial nerve.