Clinical significance of suprascapular nerve mobilization

Kale D. Bodily, Robert J. Spinner, Alexander Y. Shin, Allen T. Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The anatomy of the suprascapular nerve is important to surgeons when focal nerve lesions necessitate surgical repair. Recent experience with a patient who had a complete suprascapular nerve lesion in the retroclavicular region (combined with axillary and musculocutaneous nerve lesions) is presented to illustrate that successful direct nerve repair is possible despite resection of a neuroma. Specifically, we found that neurolysis and mobilization of the suprascapular nerve and release of the superior transverse scapular ligament provided the necessary nerve length to achieve direct nerve repair after the neuroma was removed. A combined supraclavicular and infraclavicular approach to the suprascapular nerve provided excellent visualization, especially in the retroclavicular region. Postoperatively, the patient recovered complete shoulder abduction and external rotation with the direct repair, an outcome uncommonly achieved with interpositional grafting. Based on our operative experience, we set out to quantify the length that the suprascapular nerve could be mobilized with neurolysis. Mobilization of the nerve and release of the superior transverse scapular ligament generated an average of 1.6 cm and 0.7 cm of extra nerve length respectively, totaling 2.3 cm of additional usable nerve length overall. The ability to expose the suprascapular nerve in the retroclavicular/infraclavicular region and to mobilize the suprascapular nerve for possible direct repair has not been previously emphasized and is clinically important. This surgical approach and technique permits direct nerve repair after resection of a focal neuroma in the retroclavicular or infraclavicular region, thus avoiding interpositional grafting, and improving outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-579
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 21 2005


  • Direct repair
  • Entrapment
  • Lesion
  • Superior transverse scapular ligament
  • Suprascapular nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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