The glenohumeral joint - a mismatching system? A morphological analysis of the cartilaginous and osseous curvature of the humeral head and the glenoid cavity

J Orthop Surg Res. 2014 May 13:9:34. doi: 10.1186/1749-799X-9-34.


Background: Radial mismatch, glenohumeral conformity ratios and differences between cartilaginous and osseous radii highly depend on the measured plane. The comparison of cartilaginous radii between humeral head and glenoid in different planes provides new information to understand the degree of conformity during abduction of the upper limb.

Methods: To investigate the radii, CT-images in soft-tissue kernel of 9 specimen were analysed using an image visualization software. Statistical analysis of the obtained data was performed using the t-test.

Results: Measurements of the radii in the glenoid revealed a significantly larger radius for bone than cartilage, whereas for the humeral head the opposite was the case. Highest ratios for cartilage in the transverse plane were found in the inferior and central areas of the joint surface, whereas the smallest ratios were found in the superior area. The radial mismatch varied between 0.1 mm and 13.6 mm, depending on the measured plane.

Conclusions: The results suggest that in abduction, the cartilaginous guidance of the humeral head decreases. This might permit the humeral head an anterior-posterior shifting as well as superior-inferior translation. Surgical reconstruction of the normal glenohumeral relationships necessitates precise information about the glenohumeral morphology to ensure proper sizing and correct placement of prosthetic components and osteochondral allografts.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cadaver
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Female
  • Glenoid Cavity / diagnostic imaging*
  • Glenoid Cavity / pathology
  • Humans
  • Humeral Head / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humeral Head / pathology
  • Joint Instability / diagnostic imaging
  • Joint Instability / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Shoulder Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Shoulder Joint / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards
  • Young Adult