Does bone density of the greater tuberosity change in patients over 70?

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2014 Feb;100(1):109-11. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2013.11.009. Epub 2013 Dec 25.


Introduction: There are no published studies on bone density of the greater tuberosity of the humerus, which could influence the stability of reinsertion by suture anchors. The goal of our study was to determine the influence of age, gender and the type of tear on the quality of bone in the greater tuberosity.

Methodology: Ninety-eight patients over the age of 60 were included, 41 without a rotator cuff tear and 57 with an isolated stage 1 or 2 supraspinatus tear and fatty infiltration (FI) ≤ 2. The areas of measurement included cancellous bone located under the cortex of the greater tuberosity. Measurements were obtained either across from the tear or from the middle facet with greater tuberosity if the cuff was not torn. We measured average, maximum and minimum bone density and the standard deviation (SD) in each region with Osirix software.

Results: The two groups were similar for age (73), investigated side and mean densities (0.282 g/cm(2) vs 0.210 g/cm(2)). Age over 70 was a predictive factor for osteoporosis of the greater tuberosity whether or not a rotator cuff tear was present (P<0.0001). There was less trabecular bone in women with cuff tears (P=0.009). Stage 2 cuff retraction was predictive of osteoporosis of the greater tuberosity (P=0.0001).

Conclusion: This is the first study in the literature to evaluate bone density of the greater tuberosity in relation to the presence or not of a rotator cuff tear in an elderly population. Female gender, age over 70 and stage 2 cuff retraction are factors responsible for osteoporosis of the greater tuberosity of the humeral head. The osteoporosis is not severe, and normally the quality of bone of the greater tuberosity should not limit stability of suture anchors.

Level of evidence: 3.

Keywords: Bone density; CT scan; Greater tuberosity; Osteoporosis; Rotator cuff tear.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bone Density*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Humerus / anatomy & histology*
  • Humerus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies