Association of Rotator Cuff Tear Patterns and Intramuscular Fatty Infiltration on Magnetic Resonance Imaging

J Clin Imaging Sci. 2019 Aug 2;9:38. doi: 10.25259/JCIS_36_2019. eCollection 2019.


Objective: The impact of rotator cuff (RC) tear pattern on intramuscular fatty infiltration (FI) is not well understood. The purpose of our study is to determine if differing RC tear patterns are associated with discordant presentations of intramuscular FI.

Methods: Fifty-one adults with full-thickness tear of the posterosuperior RC on shoulder magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were identified retrospectively. The study subjects were stratified by RC tear pattern: (1) L-shaped tear cohort, (2) crescent-/U-shaped tear cohort, and (3) complete tear cohort. Clinical information pertaining to age, sex, tear size, trauma history, and length of clinical symptoms was recorded from the institution's picture archiving and communication system. Goutallier grade was assessed on oblique sagittal T1-weighted MRI by two orthopedic surgeons and one orthopedic resident. A musculoskeletal radiologist recorded the shape and size of full-thickness RC tears. Descriptive, correlation, and reliability analyses were performed.

Results: The L-shaped, crescent-/U-shaped, and compete tear cohorts demonstrated significant differences pertaining to tear size (P < 0.001) and infraspinatus Goutallier grade (P = 0.024), but not supraspinatus Goutallier grade (P = 0.370). Age had strong correlation to supraspinatus Goutallier grade (rs = 0.712, P = 0.031) and infraspinatus Goutallier grade (rs = 0.712, P = 0.029) in the crescent-/U-shaped tear cohort. Tear size had strong correlation to supraspinatus Goutallier grade (rs = 0.796, P = 0.001) and infraspinatus Goutallier grade (rs = 0.793, P = 0.001) in the complete tear cohort. Moderate interobserver agreement was present for supraspinatus (kappa, 0.484) and infraspinatus (kappa, 0.427) Goutallier grade.

Conclusion: RC tear pattern is associated with different presentations of intramuscular FI at the posterosuperior RC. Full-thickness tears involving the crescent region of the RC cuff are associated with age. Intramuscular FI is associated with RC tear size.

Keywords: Intramuscular fatty infiltration; Magnetic resonance imaging; Rotator cuff tear; Shoulder; Tear pattern.