The sensory branch distribution of the suprascapular nerve: an anatomic study

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. May-Jun 2008;17(3):500-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2007.10.008. Epub 2008 Feb 11.


The suprascapular nerve is responsible for most of the sensory innervation to the shoulder joint and is potentially at risk during surgery. In this study, 31 shoulders in 22 cadavers were dissected to investigate the sensory innervation of the shoulder joint by the suprascapular nerve, with special reference to its sensory branches. In 27 shoulders (87.1%), a small sensory branch was observed that splits off from the main stem of the suprascapular nerve proximal (48.2%), inferior (40.7%), or distal (11.1%) to the transverse scapular ligament. This percentage is considerably higher than has been previously found. In 74.2% of the shoulders, an acromial branch was also found, originating just proximal to the scapular neck, running to the infraspinatus tendon. These cadaveric results indicate that sensory branches to the shoulder joint are more common and numerous than previously described and therefore should be considered in shoulder surgery and nerve blocks to this area.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brachial Plexus / anatomy & histology
  • Brachial Plexus / surgery
  • Cadaver
  • Dissection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Nerves / anatomy & histology*
  • Peripheral Nerves / surgery
  • Scapula / innervation*
  • Shoulder Joint / innervation*