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Arthroscopy. 2008 Nov;24(11):1271-6. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2007.12.009. Epub 2008 Feb 20.

The spiral glenohumeral ligament: an open and arthroscopic anatomy study.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics, Clinic of Traumatology and Orthopaedics, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.



The purpose of this study was to visualize arthroscopically and to describe the micro- and macroscopic anatomy of the poorly known ligament of the anterior capsule of the glenohumeral joint: the so-called ligamentum glenohumerale spirale (spiral GHL).


Twenty-two fresh shoulder joints were dissected, and the anatomy of the anterior capsular structures (the spiral GHL, the middle glenohumeral ligament [MGHL], and the anterior band as well as the axillary part of the inferior glenohumeral ligament [AIGHL and AxIGHL, respectively]) was investigated. For arthroscopic visualization, 30 prospective arthroscopic clinical cases and 19 retrospective video clips of the patients who had an arthroscopic shoulder procedure with a normal subscapularis tendon, labrum, and anterior joint capsule were evaluated.


The spiral GHL and the AxIGHL were present in all 22 shoulder specimens. The AIGHL was not recognizable on the extra-articular side of the joint capsule. The MGHL was absent in 3 shoulder specimens (13.6%). Arthroscopically, the spiral GHL was found in 22 (44.9%), the MGHL in 43 (87.8%), and the AIGHL in 46 (93.9%) of the cases. The spiral GHL arose from the infraglenoid tubercle and the triceps tendon and inserted together with subscapularis tendon onto the lesser tubercle of the humerus.


Our results suggest that extra-articular structure of the spiral GHL is consistently recognizable, the upper part of which can be arthroscopically identified.


Advanced anatomic knowledge of the spiral GHL helps the clinician better understand the normal anatomy of the shoulder joint and also helps to differentiate it from pathologic findings of the patient. The biomechanical importance of the spiral GHL and its connection with shoulder pathology remains to be determined in further studies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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