Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 146–151 | Cite as

The glenocapsular ligament and the posterosuperior part of the joint capsule of the shoulder are well vascularized

  • Elle PõldojaEmail author
  • Madis Rahu
  • Kristo Kask
  • Jüri-Toomas Kartus
  • Imke Weyers
  • Ivo Kolts



A detailed structural anatomy of the posterosuperior shoulder capsule and “glenocapsular ligament” is still rather unknown. The purpose of this study was meticulously to investigate and describe the structure and blood supply of the glenocapsular ligament on the posterosuperior shoulder joint capsule.


Sixteen fixed and twelve fresh cadaveric shoulder specimens with a mean age of 73.4 (±6.4) years were analysed. Dissection without arterial injection was performed on the 16 fixed specimens—using an alcohol–formalin–glycerol solution. Before dissection, the 12 fresh specimens received of arterial injection a 10% aqueous dispersion of latex solution. After the injection, these shoulders were also fixed in an alcohol–formalin–glycerol solution.


The glenocapsular ligament was found in all 28 specimens. Single or double parallel-running bundles of connective tissue fibres were found to form a capsular-ligamentous structure on the posterosuperior part of the joint capsule. One part of the ligament was mediosuperior, another posterosuperior. The mediosuperior part varied in shape, and in 12 of 28 cases, it was absent. The glenocapsular ligament arose from the supraglenoid tubercle and posterior part of the collum scapulae and inserted into the semicircular humeral ligament. The posterior ascending branch of the circumflex scapular artery directly fed small branches laterally and medially to the joint capsule, supplying the glenocapsular ligament and the deep layer of the joint capsule.


The glenocapsular ligament is a constant anatomical structure that consists of one or two different parts. The glenocapsular ligament and the posterosuperior part of the joint capsule appear well vascularized via the posterior ascending branch of the circumflex scapular artery.

Clinical relevance

It is the hope of the authors that this anatomical study can help surgeons who perform open or arthroscopic surgery to the posterior part of the shoulder. Knowledge of the vascular anatomy presented in this study may be especially important when incisions are made to the posterior part of the shoulder, and should minimize the risk of complications.


Shoulder joint Posterosuperior capsule structure Vascular anatomy Circumflex scapular artery 



The authors thank A.Raudheiding, J. Maynicke and N. Teletzky for technical support. The authors wish also to thank the individuals who donate their bodies for the advancement of education and research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


This study received no funding to complete.

Ethical approval

The human cadavers—respectively bodies/heads/arms/legs feet etc. as parts of cadavers—were used and dissected in this examination under permission of the „Gesetz über das Leichen-, Bestattungs- und Friedhofswesen (Bestattungsgesetz) des Landes Schleswig-Holstein vom 04.02.2005, Abschnitt II, § 9 (Leichenöffnung, anatomisch)“. In this case it is allowed to dissect the bodies of the donators (Körperspender/in) for scientific an/or educational purposes.

Informed consent

As there was not individual participants in this study informed consent was not required.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy (ESSKA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia
  2. 2.Department of OrthopaedicsNorth Estonian Medical Centre FoundationTallinnEstonia
  3. 3.Orthopaedic Department NU-Hospital Group TrollhättanUniversity of GoethenburgGoethenburgSweden
  4. 4.Institute of AnatomyUniversity of LübeckLübeckGermany

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