Updated: 11/12/2018

Axillary nerve

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Axillary Nerve
Innervation
  • Motor
    • deltoid
    • teres minor
  • Sensory 
    • superficial lateral cutaneous nerve of arm
      • lateral shoulder sensation
Origin
  • Originates from the brachial plexus 
    • middle trunk, posterior division, posterior cord
  • Carries fibers from C5 and C6
Course
  • Comes off posterior cord behind the axillary artery, anterior to the subscapularis muscle
  • Travels through the quadrangular space 
    • runs here with the posterior circumflex humeral artery and vein
  • Gives off an anterior, posterior, and articular terminal branch
  • Terminal branches
    • anterior branch
      • wraps around the surgical neck of the humerus on the undersurface of the deltoid
      • supplies the anterior deltoid muscle 
      • traditional "safe zone" from lateral acromion is 5 cm
        • axillary nerve has been shown to run 3-5 cm from the acromion in 20% of patients
        • damage to nerve with a muscle split here will denervate the anterior deltoid
      • terminates in small cutaneous branches for the anterior/anterolateral skin
    • posterior branch
      • supplies the teres minor and posterior deltoid muscles
      • pierces the deep fascia and terminates as the superior lateral cutaneous nerve of the arm
    • articular branch
      •  enters the shoulder joint inferior to the subscapularis
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