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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 1994 Mar;3(2):79-87. doi: 10.1016/S1058-2746(09)80114-6. Epub 2009 Feb 19.

Histologic and biomechanical characteristics of the supraspinatus tendon: Reference to rotator cuff tearing.

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  • 1From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, School of Medicine, Tokai University, Kanagawa, Japan; Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo Japan.


A bursal- or joint-side incomplete thickness tearing of the rotator cuff is clinically important, because it is known that this tearing has the potential to develop into a complete tendon disruption. Normal cadaveric supraspinatus tendons were analyzed histologically and biomechanically to clarify the differences in pathomechanical causation of bursal- and joint-side incomplete tears. Histologically, the bursal-side layer was composed of tendon bundles with a decreasing muscular component toward the insertion. The joint-side layer was a complex of tendon, ligament, and joint capsule without transitional areas. Biomechanically, the bursal-side layer had greater deformation and tensile strength. When each layer was divided into three portions of equal length, the middle segment of the bursal-side layer elongated the most, whereas the entire joint-side layer increased evenly in length. We conclude that the joint-side layer is more vulnerable to a tensile load than the bursal-side layer.

Copyright © 1994 Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Board of Trustees. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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