Tears at the rotator cuff footprint: prevalence and imaging characteristics in 305 MR arthrograms of the shoulder

Eur Radiol. 2011 Jul;21(7):1477-84. doi: 10.1007/s00330-011-2066-x. Epub 2011 Jan 26.


Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence, imaging characteristics and anatomical distribution of tears at the rotator cuff (RC) footprint with MR arthrography (MR-A) of the shoulder.

Methods: MR arthrograms obtained in 305 patients were retrospectively reviewed. Partial articular-sided supraspinatus tendon avulsions (PASTA), concealed interstitial delaminations (CID), reverse PASTA lesions and full-thickness tears (FT) at the humeral tendon insertion were depicted. Anatomical locations were determined and depths of tears were classified.

Results: 112/305 patients showed RC tears, including 63 patients with 68 footprint tears. 34 PASTA lesions were detected with 20/34 involving the anterior supraspinatus (SSP) tendon and 17/34 PASTA lesions were grade I lesions. Most CID lesions (14/23) occurred at the posterior SSP and 20/23 were classified as grade I or II. 9 FT and 2 reverse PASTA lesions were found. Statistical analysis revealed no difference in anatomical location (p = 0.903) and no correlation with overhead sports activity (p = 0.300) or history of trauma (p = 0.928). There were significantly more PASTA lesions in patients < 40 years of age (p = 0.029).

Conclusions: Most RC tears detected with MR-A involve the SSP footprint and are articular-sided with predominance in younger patients, but concealed lesions are not as uncommon as previously thought.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Tendon Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Tendon Injuries / epidemiology