Anatomy of the shoulder (MRI, radiography images, medical illustrations and anatomical structures)

Antoine Micheau, MD, Denis Hoa, MD

Published on Monday 22 September 2008

SECTION: Musculoskeletal anatomy (upper and lower extremities)

Images and anatomical references

Atlas of human antomy - The shoulder (MRI, X-rays, Angiogram medical illustrations) : loading page


This atlas of cross sectional anatomy of the glenohumeral joint (shoulder) is based on imagery by magnetic resonance (MRI). Each anatomical structure is labelled interactively. This tool is at the same time useful for the training and teaching of the anatomy, but also for experts to illustrate a course or an explanation of pathology to a patient, in particular within the framework of rotator cuff tendon injuries and joint disease.

This software is open and free for anyone curious about anatomy, but it was particularly conceived for radiologists, rheumatologists, orthopaedic surgeons, general practitioners, medical students (assistance with the preparation of medical boards), as well as radiologic technologists.


Human anatomical atlas of the shoulder : axial slice of T1 weighted MRI with all anatomical structures labeled (muscles, nerves, veins, arteries, bones, ligaments, lymph nodes).


Cross-sectional anatomy: MR of the shoulder


MRI of the shoulder : muscles of the rotator cuff labeled on a sagittal MR slice.


An MRI of the shoulder of a healthy subject was performed in the 3 planes of space (coronal, axial, sagittal) commonly used in osteoarticular imagery, with two weightings most commonly used to explore the musculo-skeletal pathology of the shoulder: spin-echo T1 and proton-density with fat saturation sequences.

The images obtained were exported to JPEG from DICOM data stored on the PACS (Picture Archiving and Communicating System).

The images were post processed with Adobe Photoshop (realignment, reduction of size in order to adapt to the electronic format).

The interactive and dynamic contents were added with Adobe Flash.


3D model of the gleno-humeral joint : anatomy of the scapula, humerus and clavicle




Anatomy of the gleno-humeral joint - Medical illustration showing deep layer of muscles, ligaments and tendos all labeled.


We used a 3D volume rendering (CT-scan) of the shoulder. A numeric illustration was then added to show bone anatomy, muscles attachments, ligaments and muscle layers of the rotator cuff.
These illustrations allow basic anatomical recalls in anatomy of the shoulder and make it possible to be located more easily on an MRI by using the cross-references.


Arteriography (angiogram) of the axillary artery and his branches all labeled : subclavian, thoracic, subscapular, thoracodorsal, brachial, circumflex arteries...



In this anatomic tool, we added a new kind of images :


  • Radiography of the shoulder (AP and “Y” view)


Medical pictures of the rotator cuff and gleno-humeral joint adapted from Netter's Illustrations


  • Arteriography (angiography) of the right axillary artery.

Medical illustration of the shoulder's muscles : superficial layer with deltoid, trapezius, pectoralis major and minor, latissiums dorsi...

Anatomy of the shoulder: how to use anatomic labels


Muscle attachments on a 3D medical illustration of the shoulder.


The menu “anatomical structures” allows the user to visualize only the chosen types of labels :

  • Bones
  •  Joints
  •  Ligaments
  •  Muscles
  •  Tendons
  •  Lymph nodes
  •  Arteries
  •  Veins
  •  Nerves

The “weightings” menu makes it possible to choose the type of MR sequence to be viewed: spin-echo T1 or proton-density with fat saturation sequences.
The “plans” menu allows the user to choose the visualization of the shoulder in one of the 3 planes of space: axial, coronal or sagittal and to access the illustrations and x-rays.
The left side menu provides cross-references to help for a better orientation in space for the user. This one moreover is facilitated by the medical illustrations.
We have added a new horizontal menu at the bottom, which allows the user to access the MR slices or other images (anatomic pictures and x-rays) more quickly.


Radiological anatomy of the shoulder based on X-rays (Radiography) - Bones and joints are all labeled interactively.

Anatomical parts

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