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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2003 Mar-Apr;12(2):122-7.

Radiographic findings associated with symptomatic rotator cuff tears.

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Department of Orthopaedics, University of South Alabama Medical Center, Mobile 36617-2293, USA.


This study compared shoulder radiographs of patients with a documented rotator cuff tear with those of asymptomatic age-matched controls. Radiographs of 40 subjects with documented rotator cuff tears were evaluated along with similar films of 84 asymptomatic age-matched controls. Three radiographs were taken of each shoulder: (1) acromioclavicular joint view, (2) anterior-posterior view with 30 degrees of external rotation, and (3) supraspinatus outlet view. Two fellowship-trained radiologists interpreted 14 radiographic areas in a blinded fashion. Inspection of the greater tuberosity showed large positive abnormal ratings for sclerosis, osteophytes, subchondral cysts, and osteolysis. No association was noted between acromial morphology and rotator cuff tears. These results indicate that shoulder radiographs of subjects with a documented rotator cuff tear have greater tuberosity radiographic abnormalities that are not noted in asymptomatic subjects without a rotator cuff tear. No relationship was found between tear length and any of the degenerative conditions.

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