The role of the rotator interval capsule in passive motion and stability of the shoulder.

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The purpose of this study was to characterize the role of the capsule in the interval between the supraspinatus and subscapularis tendons with respect to glenohumeral motion, translation, and stability. We used a six-degrees-of-freedom position-sensor and a six-degrees-of-freedom force and torque-transducer to determine the glenohumoral rotations and translations that resulted from applied loads in eight cadaver shoulders. The range of motion of each specimen was measured with the capsule in the rotator interval in a normal state, after the capsule had been sectioned, and after it had been imbricated. Operative alteration of this capsular interval was found to affect flexion, extension, external rotation, and adduction of the humerus with respect to the scapula. Modification of this portion of the capsule also affected obligate anterior translation of the humeral head on the glenoid during flexion. Limitation of motion and obligate translation were increased by operative imbrication and diminished by sectioning of the rotator interval capsule. Passive stability of the glenohumeral joint was evaluated with the use of anterior, posterior, and inferior stress tests. Instability and occasional frank dislocation of the glenohumeral joint occurred inferiorly and posteriorly after section of the rotator interval capsule. Imbrication of this part of the capsule increased the resistance to inferior and posterior translation.

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