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Keywords:

  • anatomy;
  • shoulder;
  • deltoid;
  • muscle;
  • tendon;
  • model

Abstract

This study provides a model of the complex deltoid origin and end tendons, as a basis for further anatomical, biomechanical and clinical research. Although the deltoid is used in transpositions with upper limb paralysis, its detailed morphology and segmentation has not been object of much study. Morphologically, the deltoid faces two distinct challenges. It closely envelops a ball joint, and it reduces its width over a short distance from a very wide origin along clavicle, acromion and spina scapula, to an insertion as narrow as the humerus. These challenges necessitate specific morphological tendon adaptations. A qualitative model for these tendons is developed by the stepwise transformation of a unipennate muscle model into a functional deltoid muscle. Each step is the solution to one of the mentioned morphological challenges. The final model is of an end tendon consisting of a continuous succession of bipennate end tendon blades centrally interspaced by unipennate tendon parts. The origin tendon consists of lamellae that interdigitate with the end tendon blades, creating a natural segmentation. The model is illustrated by qualitative dissection results. In addition, in view of a proliferation of terms found in the literature to describe deltoid tendons, tendon concepts are reviewed and the systematic use of the unique and simple terminology of ‘origin and end tendons’ is proposed.