Diagnosis of rotator cuff tears

Lancet. 2001 Mar 10;357(9258):769-70. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)04161-1.


Rotator cuff tears account for almost 50% of major shoulder injuries but are sometimes difficult to diagnose. To aid diagnosis, we did a prospective study, comparing results of 23 clinical tests from 400 patients with and without rotator cuff tears. Three simple tests were predictive for rotator cuff tear: supraspinatus weakness, weakness in external rotation, and impingement. When all three were positive, or if two tests were positive and the patient was aged 60 or older, the individual had a 98% chance of having a rotator cuff tear; combined absence of these features excluded this diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis