A new arthroscopic classification of articular-sided supraspinatus footprint lesions: a prospective comparison with Snyder's and Ellman's classification

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2008 Nov-Dec;17(6):909-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2008.06.007. Epub 2008 Sep 24.


The aim of this study was to find a descriptive rationale to quantify articular-sided supraspinatus tendon tears in the transverse and coronal planes, leading to a 2-dimensional description of the tear pattern. Fifty-six consecutive patients with articular-sided, symptomatic supraspinatus tendon tears diagnosed clinically and by magnetic resonance imaging underwent standardized diagnostic arthroscopy. Intra-articular findings of the rotator cuff were classified according to Ellman and Snyder. In addition, the longitudinal tear was assessed according to the length of the peeled-off bony footprint in the coronal plane. The sagittal tear extension was defined as a tear of the lateral reflection pulley on the medial border of the supraspinatus tendon and/or a tear in the area of the crescent zone. Statistically, we found a high correlation (r = 0.920, P < .0001) between the classifications of Ellman and Snyder, and we found only a slight correlation between the classifications of Snyder and Ellman with this new classification. Neither the classification of Snyder nor that of Ellman reproduced the extension of the partial-thickness rotator cuff tear in the transverse and coronal planes related to its etiologic pathomorphology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy / classification*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Rupture