Ultrasound Measurement of the Suprascapular Nerve

  • End date
    Jul 28, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    National Taiwan University Hospital
Updated on 28 January 2021


Suprascapular nerve is the first nerve that branches from the upper trunk of brachial plexus. It receives signals transmitted from the fifth and sixth cervical root. The clinical importance of suprascapular nerve is mainly based on its distribution of 70% sensory innervation to the glenohumeral joint. After divided from the upper trunk, the suprascapular nerve goes laterally and posteriorly. First, it passes underneath omohyoid muscle, and then goes through the suprascapular notch and into the suprascapular fossa. At suprascapular fossa, the suprascapular nerve is just below supraspinatus muscle. If there are some problems inside the supraspinatus muscle, the suprascapular nerve below it could be compromised. After suprascapular nerve passes suprascapular fossa, it will cross spinoglenoid notch, then go into infraspinatus fossa and innervates infraspinatus muscle. Based on the important distribution of suprascapular nerve to the sensory and motor function of shoulder joint, it has great benefits to understand its normal and abnormal sonographic images in order to diagnose refractory shoulder pain cases. Although there are some studies trying to measure the size of suprascapular nerve, most of them are limited in its location at the supraspinatus fossa. Also, they do not take factors into consideration, such as the subject's sex, body index, orientation and if shoulder pain or not at that point. In conclusion, our study is aimed to explore the difference of the suprascapular nerves between the participants with and without shoulder pain and to investigate potential factors that may influence the nerve's size using high-resolution ultrasound.



Shoulder pain arises to be one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints. The mechanism of an increased risk of painful shoulders is multifactorial and the role of the suprascapular nerve in development and management of shoulder pain has been highlighted recently. In recent years, high resolution ultrasound has been widely applied on evaluation of entrapment neuropathy, and its reliability on assessing the cross-sectional area of suprascapular nerves has been validated. As the suprascapular nerve is crucial for conducting shoulder motion and sensation, it is of clinical importance to measure the size of suprascapular nerve. Our study is aimed to explore the difference of the suprascapular nerves between the participants with and without shoulder pain and to investigate potential factors that may influence the nerve's size using high-resolution ultrasound.

Material and methods:

Study design:

This was a cross-sectional study investigating suprascapular nerves in the asymptomatic and painful shoulders of participants. All the participants were required to ambulate independently, have normal cognitive function and complete the given questionnaires. Both groups included at least 60 participants.

Detail of the investigation

  1. High-resolution ultrasound evaluation of the shoulder region to recognize the biceps tendon, subscapularis tendon, supraspinatus tendon, and infraspinatus tendon.
  2. High-resolution ultrasound evaluation for the C5, C6 and C7 nerve roots and the suprascapular nerve over the supraclavicular fossa, in the supraspinatus fossa and in the infraspinatus fossa to obtain the nerve cross-sectional image.
  3. Collecting the shoulder pain-related information, including physical examination results (bicipital groove tenderness, Speed test, Yergason's test, Empty can test, Neer test, Hawkins-Kennedy test and painful arc test) and status of disability using Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI).
  4. The measurements of the nerve cross-sectional area were conducted by another specialist with the image processing software (Image J). For the most proximal section of the suprascapular nerve, the cross-section of the nerve fascicles inside the hyperechoic epineurium were measured. In the segment over the supraspinatus and infraspinatus fossae, the whole nerve's cross-section including its epineurium were measured.
  5. The identification for the images of the rotator cuff lesions or biceps tendon lesions were conducted by another specialist.
  6. Comparison of age, body height, body weight, and CSA across various age and sex groups were conducted.

Statistical analysis:

  1. Continuous variables: Mann Whitney u test
  2. Categorical variables: Chi-square test

Condition Arthralgia, Chronic Leg Pain, Shoulder Pain, Chronic Leg Pain
Treatment ultrasound
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04683705
SponsorNational Taiwan University Hospital
Last Modified on28 January 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Adult patients ( 20 year old). All the participants were those visiting the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation for musculoskeletal complaints

Exclusion Criteria

History of malignancy
Uncontrolled medical conditions (like systemic rheumatic disease, including rheumatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis)
Previous major trauma or surgeries, and suprascapular nerve block on either side of the shoulders within the three months
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact



Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note