Rotator Cuff Delamination Is Associated With Increased Tendon Retraction and Higher Fatty Muscle Infiltration: A Comparative Study on Arthroscopy and Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Published:December 27, 2021DOI:


      To investigate (1) tendon delamination according to different rotator cuff tear patterns as well as (2) the association of tendon retraction and fatty muscle infiltration with delamination of the rotator cuff. Furthermore, we aimed to establish the accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging for the detection of rotator cuff delamination.


      Magnetic resonance imaging scans of patients who underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff repair from 2013 to 2015 were retrospectively compared to intraoperative findings. Prevalences of tendon delamination, tendon retraction, and fatty muscle infiltration were categorized according to different rotator cuff tear patterns. For comparability of the amount of tendon retraction of delaminated and non-delaminated rotator cuff tears, we introduced the global retraction index, a description individually assessing tendon retraction in magnetic resonance imaging scans of all visible layers.


      Of 349 shoulders, tendon delamination was observed in 231 patients (66.2%). Of these, rotator cuff delamination was most commonly seen in posterosuperior rotator cuff tears (84.6%). Delaminated rotator cuff tears presented with a significantly higher global retraction index (P < .001) as well as higher fatty muscle infiltration of the supraspinatus (P = .001) and infraspinatus (P = .001). Magnetic resonance imaging had only moderate accuracy (57.3%) to detect rotator cuff delamination, with a positive predictive value of 100% (95% confidence interval [CI] 95.6% to 100.0%) and a negative predictive value of 44.2% (95% CI 38.1% to 50.4%).


      Tendon delamination was most commonly observed in posterosuperior rotator cuff tears. Delaminated rotator cuff tears showed a significantly greater tendon retraction as well as a higher amount of fatty muscle infiltration of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus. Magnetic resonance imaging has only moderate accuracy for detection of rotator cuff delamination.

      Level of Evidence

      III, retrospective cohort study.
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