Morphology of Large Rotator Cuff Tears and of the Rotator Cable and Long-term Shoulder Disability in Conservatively Treated Elderly Patients

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The objective of this study was to describe the morphology of the rotator cuff tendon tears and long-term shoulder disability in conservatively treated elderly patients and determine if an association exists between these factors.


Assessment of the rotator cuff tendon tear dimensions and depth, rotator interval involvement, rotator cable morphology and location, and rotator cuff muscle status was carried out on magnetic resonance studies of 24 elderly patients treated nonoperatively for rotator cuff tendon tears. Long-term shoulder function was measured using the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff (WORC) index; Disabilities of the Shoulder, Arm, and Hand questionnaire; and the American Shoulder Elbow Self-assessment form, and a correlation between the outcome scores and morphologic magnetic resonance findings was carried out.


The majority of large rotator cuff tendon tears are limited to the rotator cuff crescent. Medial rotator interval involvement (isolated or in association with lateral rotator interval involvement) was significantly associated with WORC physical symptoms total (P = 0.01), WORC lifestyle total (P = 0.04), percentage of all WORC domains (P = 0.03), and American Shoulder Elbow Self-assessment total (P = 0.01), with medial rotator interval involvement associated with an inferior outcome.


Medial rotator interval tears are associated with long-term inferior outcome scores in conservatively treated elderly patients with large rotator cuff tendon tears.

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