The geometry of the humeral head and the design of prostheses

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1991 Jul;73(4):647-50. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.73B4.2071652.


The articular surface of the humeral head is usually described as facing posteromedially, making an angle of between 16 degrees and 35 degrees with the transepicondylar plane. At hemiarthroplasty the articular surface also appears to be offset posteriorly with respect to the humeral shaft. Coracoid impingement may occur if this offset is not accommodated. An analysis was made of 29 cadaveric humeri using an industrial co-ordinate measuring machine. The position of the centre of the head was defined with respect to the humeral shaft and transepicondylar plane. The humeral articular surface was found to be retroverted by 21.4 degrees and its centre offset posteriorly by 4.7 mm. Previous interpretation of retroversion did not take into account the posterior displacement, and this may be of importance in improving future prosthetic design.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry / instrumentation
  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Bias
  • Humans
  • Humerus / anatomy & histology*
  • Joint Prosthesis / standards*
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Prosthesis Design / standards*
  • Reference Standards