Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 66–76 | Cite as

The Glenohumeral Capsule Should be Evaluated as a Sheet of Fibrous Tissue: A Validated Finite Element Model

  • Susan M. Moore
  • Benjamin Ellis
  • Jeffrey A. Weiss
  • Patrick J. McMahon
  • Richard E. DebskiEmail author


The function of the glenohumeral capsule has typically been evaluated by isolating several discrete, ligamentous regions during experimental and computational investigations. However, recent data suggests that the regions of the glenohumeral capsule have significant interactions and function multiaxially. Therefore, examining the function of the inferior glenohumeral ligament as a discrete structure may not be appropriate. The objective of this work was to validate the predicted strain distribution and deformed shape of the inferior glenohumeral ligament using experimental data for two subject-specific finite element models: (1) a continuous model including all capsular regions, and (2) a discrete model including only the inferior glenohumeral ligament. The distribution of maximum principal strain and deformed shape of the glenohumeral capsule was determined for a cadaveric shoulder in a joint position frequently associated with dislocation (60° of glenohumeral abduction, 52° of external rotation, and a 25 N anterior load applied to the humerus). The experimental kinematics were then applied to the two finite element models constructed from the geometry and material properties from the same cadaveric shoulder and the predicted strain distributions and deformed shapes were determined. For the continuous model, the average difference between predicted strains and experimental strains was less than 5%. The predicted deformed shape was also similar to experimental data, with the anterior band of the inferior glenohumeral ligament clearly wrapped around the humeral head. In contrast, large differences existed between the strains predicted by the discrete model when compared to the experimental strains for this joint position (average difference from experimental data was 20%). In addition, the predicted deformed shape of the inferior glenohumeral ligament did not wrap around the humeral head. These differences may be attributed to neglecting the complex interactions between the anterior band of the inferior glenohumeral ligament with the neighboring capsular regions. Thus, the glenohumeral capsule should not be evaluated as several discrete structures. Rather, it should be evaluated as a single sheet of fibrous tissue.


Shoulder Strain Kinematics 



The support of NIH grants AR-050218 and AR-047369 is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan M. Moore
    • 1
  • Benjamin Ellis
    • 2
  • Jeffrey A. Weiss
    • 2
  • Patrick J. McMahon
    • 1
  • Richard E. Debski
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Musculoskeletal Research Center, Department of BioengineeringUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of BioengineeringUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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