What is a Suspensory Ligament? 

A suspensory ligament is a group of fibrous membranes or any tissues that puts up or suspends a particular organ or a part of the body.        

What is a Fibrous Membrane?    

It is a kind of membrane formed of fibrous connective tissue. At the fibrous joint, the adjacent bones are either narrow or wide and are in direct contact with the help of fibrous connective tissue. 

What are the Types of Fibrous Joints? 

There are three types of fibrous joints: a suture, syndesmosis, and gomphosis. The suture is a fibrous joint present as narrow bands between the bones of the skull. In syndesmosis, the bones are separated widely but are retained by a narrow band of fibrous connective tissue, called ligaments. The wide sheet of connective tissue is known as an interosseous membrane. Gomphosis is also a narrow joint found between the roots of a tooth and the bony socket in which a tooth fits within the jaw. 

Note: The ligaments are found in the long bones of the forearm or leg.  

Types of the Suspensory Ligament 

There are various types of suspensory ligaments as listed below: 

  1. Suspensory ligament of axilla 

The pectoral fascia is a thin layer present on the pectoralis major, a muscle located in the chest. The fascia leaves the pectoralis major’s bottom part to cross the floor of the axilla. The lamina splits and covers the pectoralis minor (a thin muscle present below the pectoralis major). The void in the armpit is noticed during arm abduction due to the tension exerted by the suspensory ligament on the floor of the axillae.   

  1. Suspensory ligament of the clitoris 

This ligament is a quadrangular pyramid; it consists of the clitoral base and a prepubic. The ligament insertions are present on the corporeal albuginea, and they protrude ahead and spread over the lateral sides of the ending. Specific fibers of these ligaments connect to the interior surface of the clitoral body. 

  1. Suspensory ligament of the breast 

The suspensory ligament of the breast is known as Cooper’s ligament. They are made up of connective tissues that surround the lobules of the mammary gland. In certain regions, the tissues condense to form ligaments that provide support to the breast. These ligaments extend from the dermis to the deep fascia. In the case of inflammatory carcinoma, a dimpling appearance of the ligament would occur. The lymphatic ducts block, and the skin remains restrained by the ligaments. 

  1. Suspensory ligaments of the eyeball 

It is also known as Lockwood’s ligament. When the lower part of the fascia bulbi becomes thick, it is referred to as the suspensory ligament of the eye. This suspensory ligament forms a hammock below the eyeball and is expanded in the center and narrow at its maximal. The hammock-like structure gives support to the eyeball and is attached to the zygomatic and lacrimal bones. The fascia bulbi becomes constant with the optic nerve sheath at the posterior end of the eyeball.  

  1. Suspensory ligaments of the ovary 

In the ovary, the suspensory ligaments support the internal genitalia of the female reproductive system. The ligaments associated with the internal genitalia are divided into broad, uterine, and ovarian ligaments. The ligament associated with the ovary extends extrinsically to the lateral abdominal wall from the ovary. It contains a peritoneum fold that aids in enclosing the vesicles and nerves of the ovary. 

"Suspensory ligaments of the ovary"
  1. Suspensory ligaments of the penis 

The suspensory ligament of the penis is necessary for operating minor changes in the penis during erection. The ligament is attached to the pubic symphysis, which helps in maintaining a proper distance between the penis and the pubic bone. It also provides support to the penis during erection. 

  1. Suspensory ligaments of the duodenum 

The suspensory ligament of the duodenum is present on the right side of the esophagus. It arises from the crus of the diaphragm. Elastic fibers are the middle part of the ligament, and skeletal fibers form the first part. The ligament suspends the duodenojejunal flexure from the retroperitoneum and is placed behind the pancreas. The contraction of this ligament increases the angle of duodenojejunal flexure. 

  1. Suspensory ligaments of the thyroid gland 

The ligament of the thyroid gland is also known as the ligament of the Berry or posterior ligament of the thyroid gland. It connects the thyroid gland to the cricoid cartilage. The thyroid gland in the neck from above is suspended by the ligament and connected to the hyoid bone. From below, the thyroid gland is connected to the fibrous pericardium. The gland is surrounded by a thyroid capsule which connects to the ligament of Berry eventually. This ligament stabilizes the thyroid gland in a position and prevents it from falling into the mediastinum.  

The Suspensory Ligament in Horse 

Clinical signs get varied with the damage’s severity and the site of the injury. In the horse, the suspensory ligaments are fibrous and strong anatomically. The ligament provides support for the fetlock and helps protect from hypertension which is formed by exercise. It is connected to the cannon bone, which is situated beneath the portion of the knee. The bone is also recognized as the origin of the ligament. When the suspensory ligament’s origin gets damaged in an injury, the condition is called suspensory desmitis. Desmitis is commonly bilateral, which refers to both hind limbs and forelimbs. The suspensory ligament injuries cause pain in the region just below the knee, known as the carpus or hock. Lameness is a common problem in sport horses and racehorses. In the region of forelimbs, the lameness may be inconsistent and somewhat variable, but when hindlimbs are damaged, lameness is generally more consistent. The lameness gets worse with physical activity like exercise and tends to improve with rest. 

"Suspensory ligament in horse"

Content and Applications    

This topic is significant in the professional exams for both undergraduate and graduate courses, especially for 

  • Bachelors of Science in Zoology 
  • Bachelors of Science in Anatomy  
  • Master of Science in General Physiology  
  • Master of Science in Physiology 

Related Concepts 

  1. The muscular system 
  2. Joints  
  3. Anatomy and physiology of muscles 

Practice Problems 

  • What is the disadvantage of the duodenum ligament? 

The duodenum ligament is present on the posterior side. Excessive contraction can inverse the ligament, resulting in a temporary obstruction in the gut.  

  • What is the clinical significance of Berry’s ligament?  

The recurrent laryngeal nerve passes through Berry’s ligament. Therefore while undergoing thyroid surgery, the nerve should not be damaged. An inferior thyroid artery is also found near the ligament. If this artery is damaged during surgery, it will impair the field of vision. Moreover, there would be an increase in thyroglobulin due to the tissues present in Berry’s ligament. 

  • What is the advantage of the ligament of the penis? 

The suspensory ligament of the penis maintains the base of the penis in front of the pubis. It also provides support to the movable portion of the penis during erection. 

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