Main Article Content
The aim of this study was to characterize the microscopic structure and sensory nerve endings of the crural interosseous membrane (IM). 13 IMs from 7 cadavers were used to analyze the organization of the collagen fibers, IM’s thickness, distribution of elastic fibers and nerve elements. The IM is mainly a two-layer collagen fascicle structure with the collagen fibers of adjacent layers orientated along different directions, forming angles of 30.5 +/- 1.7° at proximal and 26.6 +/- 2.1° at distal part (P>0.05). The percentage of elastic fibers between the two layers and inside the collagen fascicle layer is 10.1 +/- 0.5% and 2.2 +/- 0.1% (P<0.001). The IM’s thickness at proximal, middle, and distal parts is 268.5 +/- 18.6μm; 293.2 +/- 12.5μm; 365.3 +/- 19.3 μm, respectively (Proximal vs Distal: P<0.001; Middle vs Distal: P<0.05). Nerve elements were present and located both inside and on the surface of the IM, whereas the mechanoreceptors are mainly located on the surface of the IM. Free nerve endings (33.3 +/- 5.0/cm2) and Ruffini corpuscles (3.4 +/- 0.6/cm2) were the predominant sensory elements, while Pacinian corpuscles (1.3 +/- 0.7/cm2) were rarely found. The type of mechanoreceptors found suggests that the IM may play a role in proprioception.