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J Orthop Res. 2011 Apr;29(4):588-95. doi: 10.1002/jor.21266. Epub 2010 Oct 14.

A rat model of massive rotator cuff tears.

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Department of Veterans Affairs, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California, USA.


Rotator cuff tears (RCTs) are the most common tendon injury seen in orthopedic patients. Massive RCT does not heal spontaneously and results in poor clinical outcomes. Muscle atrophy and fatty infiltration in rotator cuff muscles are major complications of chronic massive RCT and are thought to be the key factors responsible for the failure of attempted massive RCT repair. However, the pathophysiology of rotator cuff muscle atrophy and fat infiltration remains largely unknown, and no small animal model has been shown to reproduce the histologic and molecular changes seen in massive RCT. In this article, we report a novel rat massive RCT model, in which significant and consistent muscle atrophy and fat infiltration were observed in the rotator cuff muscles after rotator cuff tendon transection and denervation. The supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscle lost 25.4% and 28.9% of their wet weight 2 weeks after complete tendon transection, respectively. Six weeks after surgery, the average wet weight of supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles decreased 13.2% and 28.3%, respectively. Significant fat infiltration was only observed in infraspinatus 6 weeks after tendon transection.

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