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MRI Findings Predict Shoulder Stiffness in Rotator Cuff Tear

Joint capsule edema and thickness at axillary recess useful for predicting shoulder stiffness

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) — For patients with full-thickness rotator cuff tear, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings can predict shoulder stiffness, according to a study published online Feb. 18 in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Yoon Yi Kim, from the Veterans Health Service Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues examined MRI findings in 106 patients with small to large full-thickness rotator cuff tears. Two radiologists assessed joint capsule edema and thickness in the axillary recess, obliteration of the subcoracoid fat triangle, fatty degeneration of the torn rotator cuff muscle, and degree of retraction. Analyses were used to assess the associations between MRI findings and preoperative passive range of motion (ROM).

The researchers identified significant negative linear correlations between limited ROM at forward elevation and thickness of the joint capsule in the glenoid portion, external rotation and joint capsule edema in the humeral portion, and internal rotation and joint capsule edema in the glenoid portion — all in the axillary recess. Independent predictors of shoulder ROM on external rotation included male sex and posterosuperior rotator cuff tear. An independent predictor of shoulder ROM on internal rotation was degree of fatty degeneration.

“This study is important because it is the first to highlight joint capsule abnormality on MRI as a factor associated with stiff shoulder in patients with full-thickness rotator cuff tears,” the authors write.

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