Subscapularis recess

Last revised by Joachim Feger on 7 Feb 2024

The subscapularis recess, also known as the superior subscapularis recess or subscapularis bursa, is a normal extension of the glenohumeral joint capsule in between the superior and middle glenohumeral ligaments.

On sagittal oblique sequences and when distended with fluid, it may appear saddlebag-like by hanging over the subscapularis tendon, inferior to the coracoid process.

It is important not to confuse the subscapular recess with the subcoracoid bursa, the latter does not communicate with the glenohumeral joint and has a more caudal extent.

Distension of the subscapularis recess in the setting of shoulder pain suggests adhesive capsulitis, especially in the setting of nocturnal pain and middle-aged patients 3,4.

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