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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2017 Oct;26(10):1818-1825. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2017.03.024. Epub 2017 Jun 9.

Fatty infiltration of stage 1 or higher significantly compromises long-term healing of supraspinatus repairs.

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Ramsay Générale de Santé, Centre Orthopédique Santy, Hôpital Privé Jean Mermoz, Lyon, France.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Pôle inflammation, infection, immunologie et loco-moteur, Hôpital Pierre-Paul Riquet, Toulouse, France.
Shoulder and Elbow Service, Strasbourg University Hospital-CCOM, Illkirch, France.
Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou (HEGP), Paris, France.
Hôpital Trousseau, Chambray-lès-Tours, France.
ReSurg SA, Nyon, Switzerland. Electronic address:
Saint-Grégoire Private Hospital Center, Saint-Grégoire, France.



Fatty infiltration (FI) compromises outcomes of rotator cuff repairs. Most clinicians consider FI of the infraspinatus, whether it is torn or intact, because it is most rapidly affected. The purpose of this study was to report long-term outcomes of isolated supraspinatus repairs and to determine their associations with FI of the infraspinatus and supraspinatus.


The records of 182 patients who underwent repair of isolated supraspinatus tears and had preoperative magnetic resonance imaging were retrieved. Of these, 147 patients were evaluated at 10 years' follow-up using the Constant score and magnetic resonance imaging scans.


Preoperative FI was greater in the supraspinatus (52% stage ≥1) than in the infraspinatus (29% stage ≥1). The 10-year Constant scores were influenced by FI of the supraspinatus (P = .006) but not of the infraspinatus (P = .422). Multivariable regression confirmed that Constant scores were significantly lower for female patients, repetitive work, and stage 1 and stage 2 FI of the supraspinatus in addition to open surgery. Retear rates (Sugaya types IV-V) were also influenced by FI of the supraspinatus (P = .001) but not of the infraspinatus (P = .979). Shoulders with supraspinatus FI at stages 0, 1, and 2 had retear rates of 10%, 22%, and 31%, respectively. Multivariable regression affirmed that the odds of retears are significantly increased by both stage 1 and stage 2 FI of the supraspinatus.


The Constant scores and retear rates were significantly associated with FI of the torn supraspinatus (stage ≥1) but not of the intact infraspinatus. The authors recommend that rapid surgical intervention be considered, before accumulation of fat, especially for young, active patients.


Constant score; Rotator cuff tear; fatty infiltration; infraspinatus; retear rate; rotator cuff repair; supraspinatus

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