Keisuke Matsuki, Hiroyuki Sugaya, Norimasa Takahashi, Morihito Tokai, Shota Hoshika, Yusuke Ueda

Fatty Degeneration of the Rotator Cuff Muscles Improves in Shoulders with Successful Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Surgery

Background: There remain arguments regarding whether fatty degeneration of the rotator cuff muscles improves following rotator cuff repair. The purpose of this study was to prospectively investigate changes in fatty degeneration of the rotator cuff muscles, quantitatively measured on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with use of transverse relaxation time (T2) mapping techniques, and to assess the relationship between these changes and clinical outcomes. Methods: Patients were included if they were scheduled for arthroscopic rotator cuff repair using the suture-bridge technique between June 2014 and December 2015, underwent preoperative MRI including the T2 mapping sequence, and consented to participate in the study. Exclusion criteria consisted of trauma within 2 months before preoperative MRI, isolated subscapularis tears, patch augmentation, neuromuscular disease, and a follow-up duration of <2 years. MRI scans were acquired preoperatively and at 2 years postoperatively, and T2 values of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles were measured, with smaller T2 values indicating less fat content. Shoulders were evaluated on the basis of active range of motion (ROM), Constant and University of California Los Angeles Shoulder Rating Scale scores, shoulder external rotation strength with the arm at the side, and rotator cuff integrity on postoperative MRI. Results: A total of 103 patients (103 shoulders) with a mean age of 65 ± 9 years (range, 42 to 83 years) were included, of whom 52 were male and 51 were female. There were 13 partial, 18 small, 35 medium, 33 large, and 4 massive tears. Concomitant subscapularis tears were observed in 35 shoulders. Overall, ROM, clinical scores, and external rotation strength significantly improved postoperatively. Retears were found in 27 shoulders (26%). External rotation strength significantly improved postoperatively only in shoulders without a retear. Among shoulders without a retear, the postoperative T2 values of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus were significantly smaller than the preoperative values (p < 0.001 for both); however, no improvement was seen in shoulders with a retear. Conclusions: Shoulders with successful repair demonstrated significantly smaller T2 values postoperatively as well as significantly improved external rotation strength. Fatty degeneration of the cuff muscles can be reversed, at least in part, and muscle strength improves in shoulders with successful repair. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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