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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2004 May-Jun;13(3):333-7.

Association of osteopenia of the humeral head with full-thickness rotator cuff tears.

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Department of Orthopaedics, University of Z├╝rich, Balgrist, Zurich, Switzerland.


Rotator cuff tendon repair may fail for various reasons. Although the role of repair techniques and of the musculotendinous unit has been studied, there is little information on the quality of the bone to which the tendon is to be repaired. Therefore, 14 cadaveric humeral heads, 7 specimens without and 7 with a full-thickness rotator cuff tendon tear, were quantitatively assessed by use of high-resolution micro-computed tomography. Bone density is higher below the articular surface than in the greater tuberosity (40% vs 10%-20%), and tendon tears are associated with a reduction in cancellous bone density of greater than 50%, leading to a virtually hollow greater tuberosity, with intact cortical bone. The results found suggest that in long-standing rotator cuff tears, creating a deep trough should be avoided to achieve reliable tendon-to-bone contact. For optimal suture fixation to bone, sutures or anchors should be positioned subcortically or medially under the articular surface.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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