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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1992 Jun;74(5):713-25.

Tendons, ligaments, and capsule of the rotator cuff. Gross and microscopic anatomy.

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  • 1Adult Reconstruction Service, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle.


We investigated the structure of the myotendinous rotator cuff in thirty-two grossly intact cuffs from thirty fresh cadavera of subjects who had been seventeen to seventy-two years old at the time of death. We studied the gross anatomy of the capsule and ligaments of the cuff, as well as histological sections of the tendons of the subscapularis, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus muscles. The tendons were found to splay out and interdigitate to form a common, continuous insertion on the humerus. The biceps tendon was ensheathed by interwoven fibers derived from the subscapularis and supraspinatus tendons. The anterior margin and bursal surface of the supraspinatus tendon were enveloped by a thick sheet of fibrous tissue derived from the coracohumeral ligament. Fibers from the coracohumeral and glenohumeral ligaments were found concentrated in a plane between the capsule and the tendons of the cuff. Microscopically, in the region of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons, the cuff was composed of five layers defined by the attachments and orientations of the fibrous elements in each of these layers.

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