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Vascularity of the humeral head after proximal humeral fractures. An anatomical cadaver study

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We studied the arterial anatomy and the effect of four-part fractures on the vascularity of the humeral head, using barium sulphate perfusion of 16 cadaver shoulders. The main arterial supply to the humeral head was via the ascending branch of the anterior humeral circumflex artery and its intraosseous continuation, the arcuate artery. There were significant intraosseous anastomoses between the arcuate artery and: 1) the posterior humeral circumflex artery through vessels entering the posteromedial aspect of the proximal humerus; 2) metaphyseal vessels; and 3) the vessels of the greater and lesser tuberosities. Simulated four-part fractures prevented the perfusion of the humeral head in most cases. If, however, the head fragment extends distally below the articular surface medially, some perfusion of the head persists by the posteromedial vessels. These vessels are important in the management of comminuted fractures of the proximal humerus.

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