Open Access Research article

Anatomical study of simple landmarks for guiding the quick access to humeral circumflex arteries

Yi-xin Chen1, Yi Zhu1, Fu-hua Wu2, Xin Zheng1, Yu-fan Wangyang1, Han Yuan1, Xiao-xiao Xie1, Dong-ya Li1, Chang-jun Wang1 and Hong-fei Shi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedics, Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital, The Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, No. 321 Zhongshan Road, Nanjing China

2 Department of Orthopedics, Lishui County People’s Hospital of Nanjing, Nanjing, China

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BMC Surgery 2014, 14:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-14-39

Published: 26 June 2014



The posterior and anterior circumflex humeral artery (PCHA and ACHA) are crucial for the blood supply of humeral head. We aimed to identify simple landmarks for guiding the quick access to PCHA and ACHA, which might help to protect the arteries during the surgical management of proximal humeral fractures.


Twenty fresh cadavers were dissected to measure the distances from the origins of PCHA and ACHA to the landmarks (the acromion, the coracoid, the infraglenoid tubercle, the midclavicular line) using Vernier calipers.


The mean distances from the origin of PCHA to the infraglenoid tubercle, the coracoid, the acromion and the midclavicular line were 27.7 mm, 50.2 mm, 68.4 mm and 75.8 mm. The mean distances from the origin of ACHA to the above landmarks were 26.9 mm, 49.2 mm, 67.0 mm and 74.9 mm.


Our study provided a practical method for the intraoperative identification as well as quick access of PCHA and ACHA based on a series of anatomical measurements.

Axillary artery; Circumflex humeral artery; Proximal humeral fracture