Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 377–383 | Cite as

Classification of the superior angle of the scapula and its correlation with the suprascapular notch: a study on 303 scapulas

  • Lei Zhang
  • Xiaoguang Guo
  • Yang Liu
  • Min Ou
  • Xiaoyan Lin
  • Ji Qi
  • Yanxiao Xu
  • Guoyou WangEmail author
  • Shijie FuEmail author
Original Article



The aims of this study had been to classify the superior angle of the scapula based on morphological features, and to investigate its correlation with the suprascapular notch.


303 samples of Chinese dried scapular specimens were collected from the Department of anatomy, Southwest Medical University. According to the anatomical morphological characteristics of the superior angle of the scapula, the morphological classification was performed to explore its correlation with the suprascapular notch (SSN).


The superior angle of the scapula was classified into three types (Hilly shape, Mountain Peak shape and Chimney shape). There were 143 cases of Hilly shape (47.20%), 144 cases of Mountain shape (47.52%), and 16 cases of Chimney shape (5.28%). The angle of Hilly shape (93.36° ± 7.76°) was significantly larger than the Mountain Peak shape (86.60° ± 6.61°) and the Chimney shape (86.22° ± 7.20°), and the difference was statistically significant (P < 0.05). The type I–III of Rengachary’s classification to SSN was low risk of suprascapular nerve entrapment, while the type IV–VI was high risk of suprascapular nerve entrapment. Compared with the Mountain Peak shape and the Chimney shape, the Hilly shape corresponds to more types I–III of suprascapular notch but to fewer types IV–VI (P < 0.05).


The superior angle of the scapula was divided into three types: Hilly shape (47.20%), Mountain Peak shape (47.52%) and Chimney shape (5.28%). The Mountain Peak shape might be more likely to result in inability of the levator muscle with acute or chronic overload mechanisms, and the risk of suprascapular nerve entrapment in Mountain peak shape was higher than that of Hilly shape. And, it might have a potential effect on neck pain.


Superior angle of the scapula Suprascapular notch Classification Suprascapular nerve entrapment 


Author contributions

LZ and SJ-F: Conception and design, XG-G: Manuscript writing/editing, YL and MO: Protocol/project development, XY-L: Data analysis, JQ and YX-X: Data collection. GY-W: Provision of materials and literature search.


This study was supported by the Academician Workstation in Luzhou (20180101).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest exists in the submission of this manuscript, and the manuscript was approved by all authors for publication.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval was given by the medical ethics committee of Southwest Medical University with the following reference number: SWMCTCM2017-0701.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lei Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaoguang Guo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yang Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Min Ou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaoyan Lin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ji Qi
    • 3
  • Yanxiao Xu
    • 3
  • Guoyou Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Shijie Fu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Affiliated Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital of Southwest Medical UniversityLuzhouChina
  2. 2.Academician WorkstationLuzhouChina
  3. 3.School of Traditional Chinese MedicineSouthern Medical UniversityGuangzhouChina

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