Glenohumeral ligaments

Dr Henry Knipe et al.

There are three glenohumeral ligaments (GHL), which are thickenings of the glenohumeral joint capsule and are important passive stabilisers of the joint. 

Superior glenohumeral ligament
  • runs from the superior aspect of the glenoid and coracoid process to the fovea capitis just superior to the lesser tuberosity of the humerus
  • initially anterior then anteroinferior to the long head of the biceps tendon; stabilises the biceps brachii tendon 3
Middle glenohumeral ligament
  • runs from the anterosuperior glenoid, arising just inferior to the superior GHL, to the anterior aspect of the anatomic neck of the humerus
Inferior glenohumeral ligament
  • sometimes referred to as the inferior glenohumeral ligament complex 4
  • runs from the inferior two-thirds of the glenoid labrum and/or neck to the lateral humerus
  • composed of three parts
    • anterior band
    • posterior band
    • axillary pouch: laxity between anterior and posterior bands
  • most important of the three GHLs as it prevents dislocation at extreme range of motion and is the main stabiliser of the abducted shoulder 1, 4
Spiral glenohumeral ligament
  • also referred to as fasciculus obliquus 5
  • runs from the infraglenoid tubercle and triceps tendon to the lesser tubercle of the humerus where it shares an insertion with the subscapularis tendon
  • not well-known, but consistently demonstrated on both anatomic dissection and MR arthrography 5
  • superior GHL is almost always present (97%) but has variable origin:
    • arises with biceps brachii tendon
    • arises with middle GHL
  • middle GHL is variable in size and appearance 1 and absent in 30% 3 

Upper limb anatomy
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Article Information

rID: 29731
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Inferior glenohumeral ligament
  • Middle glenohumeral ligament
  • Superior glenohumeral ligament
  • Glenohumeral ligament
  • Glenohumeral ligament (GHL)
  • Inferior glenohumeral ligament complex
  • SGHL
  • MGHL
  • IGHL
  • IGHL complex

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