Three-dimensional scapula kinematics and shoulder function examined before and after surgical treatment for breast cancer

Hum Mov Sci. 2012 Apr;31(2):408-18. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2011.04.002. Epub 2011 May 7.


Shoulder motion loss following surgical treatment of breast cancer is common and may be associated with surgery-related soft tissue changes and altered shoulder kinematics. Knowledge of short term biomechanical changes at the shoulder will inform treatment decisions and may help prevent the development of shoulder pathology. Shoulder motion loss following surgery also impacts quality of life and shoulder function, and measuring function with a shoulder-specific tool may direct rehabilitation. This study examined the short term effects of surgery on scapula kinematics and function in breast cancer survivors. Bilateral three-dimensional scapular kinematics were quantified before and after surgery for unilateral breast cancer and analyzed with repeated measures ANOVA. Shoulder function was assessed with the Shoulder Rating Questionnaire (SRQ) and analyzed with ANOVA. Subjects (n = 11) demonstrated statistically significant increases in scapula internal rotation on their involved side following surgery. An intention to treat analysis on all enrolled subjects supported this finding. The findings suggest that soft tissues restrictions impact short-term scapula motion following surgery for breast cancer. Significantly poorer shoulder function was reported for pain, recreation/athletic activities and total SRQ score after surgery. The SRQ appears sensitive enough to identify areas of life affected by changes in shoulder function following surgical intervention for breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Scapula / physiopathology*
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
  • Shoulder / physiopathology*
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology
  • Software
  • Surveys and Questionnaires