Recent evidence has shown that the superior glenohumeral ligament (SGHL) and coracohumeral ligament (CHL) are important static stabilizers. To clarify the function of these two ligaments, we studied their tensile properties with bone-ligament-bone complexes from fresh-frozen shoulders, 10 SGHLs and 10 CHLs. Each ligament's cross-sectional area was measured, and uniaxial tensile testing of each complex was performed. The stiffness, ultimate load, percent elongation, and energy absorbed to failure of each bone-ligament-bone complex were derived from its load-elongation curve. The cross-sectional area of the coracohumeral ligament was significantly greater than that of the superior glenohumeral ligament of their midportions (CHL, 53.7 +/- 3.2 mm2 vs. SGHL, 11.3 +/- 1.6 mm2, p < 0.05). Results also reveal significant differences between the tensile properties for the two ligaments, with the coracohumeral ligament possessing greater stiffness (CHL, 36.7 +/- 5.9 N/mm vs. SGHL, 17.4 +/- 1.5 N/mm, p < 0.05) and ultimate load (CHL, 359.8 +/- 40.3 N vs. SGHL, 101.9 +/- 11.5 N, p < 0.05) than the superior glenohumeral ligament. Our findings confirm that the coracohumeral ligament is an important capsuloligamentous structure of the glenohumeral joint.
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