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Glenoid cavity

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Title: Glenoid cavity  
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Subject: Scapula, Shoulder, Upper extremity of humerus, Acromion, Upper limb
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Glenoid cavity

Glenoid cavity
Costal surface of left scapula. Glenoid cavity shown in red.
Glenoid cavity shown in red. This cavity articulates with the head of the humerus.
Latin cavitas glenoidalis, fossa glenoidalis
Anatomical terms of bone

The glenoid cavity or glenoid fossa of scapula[help 1] is a part of the shoulder. It is a shallow pyriform, articular surface, which is located on the lateral angle of the scapula. It is directed laterally and forward and articulates with the head of the humerus; it is broader below than above and its vertical diameter is the longest.

This cavity forms the glenohumeral joint along with the humerus. This type of joint is classified as a synovial, ball and socket joint. The humerus is held in place within the glenoid cavity by means of the long head of the bicep tendon. This tendon originates on the superior margin of the glenoid cavity and loops over the shoulder bracing humerus against the cavity. The rotator cuff also reinforces this joint more specifically with the supraspinatus tendon to hold the head of the humerus in the glenoid cavity.

The cavity surface is covered with cartilage in the fresh state; and its margins, slightly raised, give attachment to a fibrocartilaginous structure, the glenoid labrum, which deepens the cavity. This cartilage is very susceptible to tearing. When torn, it is most commonly known as a SLAP lesion which is generally caused by repetitive shoulder movements.

Compared to the acetabulum (hip-joint) the glenoid cavity is relatively shallow. This makes the shoulder joint prone to luxation. Strong ligaments and muscles prevents luxation in most cases.

By being so shallow the glenoid cavity allows the glenohumeral joint to have the greatest mobility of all joints in the body, allowing 120 degrees of unassisted flexion. This is also accomplished by the great mobility of the scapula (shoulder blade).


  • Evolution 1
    • In dinosaurs 1.1
  • Additional images 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Interpretations of the fossil remains of Australopithecus africanus (STS 7) and A. afarensis (AL 288-1; a.k.a. Lucy) suggest that the glenoid fossa was oriented more cranially in these species than in modern humans. This reflects the importance of overhead limb postures and suggests a retention of arboreal adaptations in these hominoid primates, whereas the lateral orientation of the glenoid in modern humans reflects the typical lowered position of the arm. [1]

In dinosaurs

In dinosaurs the main bones of the pectoral girdle were the scapula (shoulder blade) and the coracoid, both of which directly articulated with the clavicle. The place on the scapula where it articulated with the humerus (upper bone of the forelimb) is called the glenoid. The glenoid is important because it defines the range of motion of the humerus.[2]

Additional images

See also


  1. ^ The word glenoid is pronounced or (both are common) and is from Greek: gléne, "socket", reflecting the shoulder joint's ball-and-socket form.


  1. ^ Larson 2009, p. 65
  2. ^ Martin, A.J. (2006). Introduction to the Study of Dinosaurs. Second Edition. Oxford, Blackwell Publishing. pg. 299-300. ISBN 1–4051–3413–5.

This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)


  • Larson, Susan G. (2009). "Homo"Evolution of the Hominin Shoulder: Early . In Grine, Frederick E.; Fleagle, John G.; Leakey, Richard E. The First Humans – Origin and Early Evolution of the Genus Homo. Springer.  
  • ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY: THE UNITY OF FORM AND FUNCTION, SIXTH EDITION Published by McGraw-Hill Written by Kenneth Saladin

External links

  • Diagram at
  • Anatomy figure: 03:02-07 at Human Anatomy Online, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Mechanics of Glenohumeral Instability at University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics
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