Anatomy and Histological Characteristics of the Spinoglenoid Ligament*

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Abstract

The spinoglenoid (inferior transverse scapular) ligament, when present, is located at the spinoglenoid notch. The ligament originates on the spine of the scapula and inserts on the superior margin of the glenoid neck. Because of discrepancies in the literature, we sought to determine its prevalence and to define its histological characteristics. We dissected 112 shoulders of seventy-six cadavera and classified the ligament as absent or an insubstantial structure, a thin fibrous band (type I), or a distinct ligament (type II). We found no distinct ligamentous structure in twenty-two shoulders (20 percent), a type-I ligament in sixty-eight shoulders (20 percent), a type-I ligament in sixty-eight shoulders (61 percent), and a type-II ligament in twenty-two shoulders (20 percent). Overall, ninety (80 percent) of the shoulders had a fibrous band of tissue that, together with the spine of the scapula, formed a narrow fibro-osseous tunnel through which the suprascapular nerve traveled.The bone-spinoglenoid ligament-bone complexes from three specimens were analyzed histologically. There were two type-I ligaments and one type-II ligament; all three ligaments were composed of collagen fibers. One type-I ligament and the type-II ligament demonstrated Sharpey fibers at their origin on the spine of the scapula. The other type-I ligament attached to the spine of the scapula through the periosteum. All three ligaments inserted into the periosteum of the glenoid neck.CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The spinoglenoid ligament may be clinically relevant in two respects. First, the ligament may limit mobilization and advancement of the infraspinatus tendon during repair of a massive tear of the rotator cuff, placing the distal part of the suprascapular nerve at risk. Second, the spinoglenoid ligament represents a potential site for nerve entrapment, particularly with the added stress of traction that can occur with overhead athletic activities.

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