Monday, June 12, 2017

The axillary nerve and adhesive capsulitis

The axillary nerve (yellow arrow) and the posterior humeral circumflex artery (red arrow) in the region of the quadrilateral space. Note proximity to the inferior capsule.

The axillary nerve is closely related to the inferior capsule of the shoulder. It passes inferior to the subscapularis muscle and travels adjacent to the capsule before entering the quadrilateral space.

The axillary nerve is associated with adhesive capsulitis in at least 2 ways.

First, the axillary nerve can be irritated in the setting of inflammation and thickening of the inferior capsule. The evidence for this is somewhat anecdotal, but makes anatomic sense. The image below is from a patient with adhesive capsulitis. Note the teres minor atrophy (green arrow) in the setting of thickening of the inferior capsule (blue arrow), and constrained fluid in the joint (orange arrow) being forced into the superior subscapularis recess (orange*). The bone lesions are from myeloma, in case you were wondering.

Second, the close proximity of the nerve to the joint capsule predisposes it to injury during arthroscopic capsule release for treatment of adhesive capsulitis. Risk of injury is decreased by placing the incision of the glenohumeral joint capsule at the glenoid insertion with the arm in the abducted and externally rotated position.


  • Jerosch J, Filler TJ, Peuker ET. Which joint position puts the axillary nerve at lowest risk when performing arthroscopic capsular release in patients with adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder? Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2002 Mar;10(2):126-9.
  • E. B. G. D. Santos, P. M. E. Souza (pdf). Teres minor beyond quadrilateral space syndrome: a pictorial review. ECR 2014 conference.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


I was reading an article on the role of religion in the secular Turkish state and came across this statement:
It is possible -- such is the argument of Carter Findley in his Turks in World History -- that in doing so it drew on a long Turkish cultural tradition, born in Central Asia and predating conversion to Islam, that figured a sacralisation of the state, which has vested its modern signifier, devlet, with an aura of unusual potency.

You may be wondering what the heck a congenital variant of spinal segmentation has to do with religion. From the always-excellent Online Etymology Dictionary:

Bone at the base of the spine, 1753, from Late Latin os sacrum "sacred bone," from Latin os "bone" + sacrum, neuter of sacer "sacred" (see sacred). Said to be so called because the bone was the part of animals that was offered in sacrifices. Translation of Greek hieron osteon. Greek hieros also can mean "strong," and some sources suggest the Latin is a mistranslation of Galen, who was calling it "the strong bone."