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Anomalous traversement of the suprascapular artery through the suprascapular notch: a possible mechanism for undiagnosed shoulder pain?

R. Shane Tubbs, Matthew d. Smyth, George G Salter, W. Jerry Oakes

Med Sci Monit 2003; 9(3): BR116-119

ID: 4737

Available online: 2003-03-17

Published: 2003-03-17

BACKGROUND: The literature is deficient in studies aimed at quantifying the occurrence of a suprascapular artery traversing the suprascapular notch with the suprascapular nerve. MATERIAL/METHODS: We have performed a cadaveric study using 60 adult specimens (120 sides). Thirty-eight specimens were male and twenty-two were female. RESULTS: Our findings conclude that in this group, the suprascapular artery travels with the suprascapular nerve through the suprascapular notch in 2.5% of specimen sides. Both specimens in whom this occurred were male. CONCLUSIONS: We hypothesize that this anatomic anomaly may also constitute a possible unrecognized mechanism in which shoulder pain is generated. Further studies focused at various races and the presence of this peculiarity are now needed to confirm our findings. In addition, unexplained chronic shoulder pain may be explored with vascular studies aimed at identifying the course of the suprascapular artery.

Keywords: Arteries - abnormalities, Muscular Atrophy - etiology, Muscular Atrophy - pathology, Shoulder Joint - abnormalities, Shoulder Joint - blood supply, Shoulder Joint - innervation, Shoulder Pain - pathology