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Arthroscopy. 2013 Jan;29(1):25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2012.06.022. Epub 2012 Nov 23.

Anatomic study of the coracoid process: safety margin and practical implications.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil.



The aim of this study was to define a safety margin for coracoid process osteotomy that does not compromise the coracoclavicular ligaments and that can be used in the coracoid transfer procedures.


Thirty shoulders from 15 cadavers were dissected, exposing the coracoid process and attached anatomic structures. The distance of the insertion of these structures to the coracoid process apex was measured.


The average length of the coracoid process was 4.26 ± 0.26 cm. The average width and height at the tip were 2.11 ± 0.2 and 1.49 ± 0.12 cm, respectively. The average distance from the tip to the anterior and posterior margin of the pectoralis minor was 0.1 ± 1.17 and 1.59 ± 0.27 cm, respectively. The average distance from the tip to the posterior margin of the coracoacromial ligament was 2.79 ± 0.33 cm. The average distance from the apex to the most anterior part of the trapezoid ligament was 3.33 ± 0.38 cm. We obtained a constant value of 0.85 cm for this measure, and the value increased with each 1.0-cm increase in the distance from the tip to the posterior margin of the pectoralis minor. The safety margin for osteotomy (i.e., available bone distance for the coracoid process transfer) was 2.64 cm.


This study established a safety margin of 2.64 cm for the osteotomy of the coracoid process and its relation with the posterior margin of the pectoralis minor. The anatomic descriptions of bone and soft tissue, as well as a measure of correlation for the safety margin of the coracoid, provide tools for surgeons performing anatomic surgical procedures to correct glenohumeral instability with significant bone loss.


Knowing the safety margin allows the surgeon to perform a safe osteotomy without direct visualization of the coracoclavicular ligaments attachments, thereby making procedures more anatomic.

Copyright © 2013 Arthroscopy Association of North America. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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