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Bone Joint J. 2013 Apr;95-B(4):517-22. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.95B4.30839.

Latissimus dorsi tendon transfer for irreparable tears of the rotator cuff: An anatomical study to assess the neurovascular hazards and ways of improving tendon excursion.

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St. Michael's Orthopaedic Associates, 155 Queen St. E, Suite 800, Toronto, Ontario M5C 1R6, Canada.


Latissimus dorsi tendon transfer (LDTT) is technically challenging. In order to clarify the local structural anatomy, we undertook a morphometric study using six complete cadavers (12 shoulders). Measurements were made from the tendon to the nearby neurovascular structures with the arm in two positions: flexed and internally rotated, and adducted in neutral rotation. The tendon was then transferred and measurements were taken from the edge of the tendon to a reference point on the humeral head in order to assess the effect of a novel two-stage release on the excursion of the tendon. With the shoulder flexed and internally rotated, the mean distances between the superior tendon edge and the radial nerve, brachial artery, axillary nerve and posterior circumflex artery were 30 mm (26 to 34), 28 mm (17 to 39), 21 mm (12 to 28) and 15 mm (10 to 21), respectively. The mean distance between the inferior tendon edge and the radial nerve, brachial artery and profunda brachii artery was 18 mm (8 to 27), 22 mm (15 to 32) and 14 mm (7 to 21), respectively. Moving the arm to a neutral position reduced these distances. A mean of 15 mm (8 to 21) was gained from a standard soft-tissue release, and 32 mm (20 to 45) from an extensile release. These figures help to define further the structural anatomy of this region and the potential for transfer of the latissimus dorsi tendon.

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