Innervation of the clavicle: a cadaveric investigation

Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2021 Dec;46(12):1076-1079. doi: 10.1136/rapm-2021-103197. Epub 2021 Nov 1.


Background: This cadaveric study investigated the innervations of the clavicle and clavicular joints (ie, sternoclavicular and acromioclavicular joints).

Methods: Twenty cadavers (40 clavicles) were dissected. A skin incision was made to permit exposure of the posterior cervical triangle and infraclavicular fossa. The platysma, sternocleidomastoid, and trapezius muscles were cleaned in order to identify the supraclavicular nerves. Subsequently, the suprascapular and subclavian nerves were localized after removal of the prevertebral layer of the deep cervical fascia. In the infraclavicular region, the pectoralis major and minor muscles were retracted laterally in order to visualize the lateral pectoral nerve. The contribution of all these nerves to the clavicular bone and joints were recorded.

Results: Along their entire length, all clavicular specimens received contributions from the supraclavicular nerves. The latter innervated the cephalad and ventral aspects of the clavicular bone. The caudal and dorsal aspects of the clavicle were innervated by the subclavian nerve (middle and medial thirds). The lateral pectoral nerve supplied the caudad aspect of the clavicle (middle and lateral thirds). The sternoclavicular joint derived its innervation solely from the supraclavicular nerves whereas the acromioclavicular joint was supplied by the supraclavicular and lateral pectoral nerves.

Conclusion: The clavicle and clavicular joints are innervated by the subclavian, lateral pectoral, and supraclavicular nerves. Clinical trials are required to determine the relative importance and functional contribution of each nerve.

Keywords: nerve block; pain management; upper extremity.

MeSH terms

  • Brachial Plexus*
  • Cadaver
  • Clavicle*
  • Humans
  • Pectoralis Muscles / innervation
  • Pectoralis Muscles / surgery
  • Shoulder / innervation
  • Shoulder / surgery