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Arthroscopy. 1985;1(2):117-22.

Arthroscopy of the shoulder in the management of partial tears of the rotator cuff: a preliminary report.


Thirty-six patients with partial tears of the supraspinatus portion of the rotator cuff underwent arthroscopic examination and debridement of the lesion. All patients, whose average age was 22 years, were involved in competitive athletics; 64% were baseball pitchers. The average duration of symptoms prior to arthroscopy was 12 months. The most common presenting complaint was pain felt in the shoulder during overhead activities. Associated pathology included tears of the glenoid labrum and partial tearing or tendinitis of the long head of the biceps tendon. Of the 34 patients available for follow-up, 26 (76%) had excellent results, three (9%) had good results, and five (15%) had poor results. Eighty-five percent of the patients returned satisfactorily to their preoperative athletic activity. Our preliminary experience with arthroscopy of the shoulder in the management of patients with partial rotator cuff tears is encouraging. Not only can a partial rotator cuff tear be debrided to initiate a healing response, but a definitive diagnosis can also be made and associated pathology identified, permitting the establishment of an appropriate rehabilitation program.

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