Anatomy of the capsulolabral complex and rotator interval related to glenohumeral instability

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2016 Feb;24(2):343-9. doi: 10.1007/s00167-015-3892-1. Epub 2015 Dec 24.


The glenohumeral joint with instability is a common diagnosis that often requires surgery. The aim of this review was to present an overview of the anatomy of the glenohumeral joint with emphasis on instability based on the current literature and to describe the detailed anatomy and anatomical variants of the glenohumeral joint associated with anterior and posterior shoulder instability. A review was performed using PubMed/MEDLINE using key words: Search terms were "glenohumeral", "shoulder instability", "cadaver", "rotator interval", "anatomy", and "anatomical study". During the last decade, the interest in both arthroscopic repair techniques and surgical anatomy of the glenohumeral ligament (superior, middle, and inferior), labrum, and rotator interval has increased. Understanding of the rotator interval and attachment of the inferior glenohumeral ligament on the glenoid or humeral head have evolved significantly. The knowledge of the detailed anatomy and anatomical variations is essential for the surgeon in order to understand the pathology, make a correct diagnosis of instability, and select proper treatment options. Proper understanding of anatomical variants can help us avoid misdiagnosis. Level of evidence V.

Keywords: Anatomy; Glenohumeral; Instability; Repair; Review; Shoulder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fibrocartilage / anatomy & histology
  • Fibrocartilage / injuries
  • Humans
  • Humeral Head / anatomy & histology
  • Humeral Head / pathology
  • Joint Capsule / anatomy & histology
  • Joint Instability / surgery*
  • Ligaments, Articular / anatomy & histology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / pathology
  • Rotator Cuff / anatomy & histology
  • Scapula / anatomy & histology
  • Shoulder Joint / anatomy & histology*
  • Shoulder Joint / injuries
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery*