The Spinoglenoid Ligament: Anatomy, Morphology, and Histological Findings

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Background: Dysfunction of the distal branch of the suprascapular nerve has been reported in athletes involved in throwing or overhead sports. The consistent presence of a dynamic anatomic structure, the spinoglenoid ligament, overlying the nerve in the spinoglenoid notch may be a contributing factor to the dysfunction of this nerve. The purpose of this study was to report the anatomy, morphology, and histological characteristics of the spinoglenoid ligament.

Methods: The spinoglenoid ligaments of fifty-eight fresh-frozen cadaver shoulders were dissected to evaluate their anatomic dimensions, histological characteristics, and relationship to the suprascapular nerve, the posterior part of the capsule, and the glenoid rim. The spinoglenoid ligament was harvested, with its insertions on the scapular spine and on the capsule and glenoid left intact, for the histological analysis.

Results: Dissection revealed that a spinoglenoid ligament was present in all specimens. The ligament was found to form an irregular quadrangular shape. On gross examination, the deep fibers of the ligament extended from the lateral aspect of the scapular spine to the posterior part of the glenoid and the superficial fibers blended with the posterior aspect of the shoulder capsule. Histological sections demonstrated Sharpey fibers inserting into bone at the scapular spine and blending with the posterior aspect of the shoulder capsule to insert into the posterior surface of the glenoid, findings that confirmed the ligamentous nature of this structure.

Conclusions: This study revealed the presence of the spinoglenoid ligament in all of the shoulders that were examined, with some variation in the size of the ligament.

Clinical Relevance: In this study, we identified a complex, multilayer, distinct spinoglenoid ligament with superficial and deep attachments to the glenoid. These findings support a possible relationship between this ligament and entrapment neuropathy of the distal suprascapular nerve.

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