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HYPOTHESIS: This study evaluated clinical features, diagnostic techniques, and summarized the results of open repair in a series of surgically confirmed cases of intratendinous rotator cuff tears. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between 1986 and 1999, 19 patients (17 men and 2 women) with intratendinous rotator cuff tears underwent surgery. Clinical findings, diagnostic results, and surgical findings were evaluated. The shoulder scores of the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) were used to assess recovery at an average of 92 months (range, 31-231 months). RESULTS: All patients had symptoms consistent with rotator cuff tendonitis. History of overt trauma was noted in 16 (84.2%). Neither ultrasound nor magnetic resonance imaging proved reliable for preoperative diagnosis. Surgery was performed if at least 6 months of conservative treatment, such as rest, heat, and physical therapies, failed. The definitive diagnosis was established intraoperatively with a longitudinal split along the fibers of the supraspinatus tendon. None of the intratendinous lesions had communication to the subacromial bursa or the glenohumeral joint. Excision of the intratendinous tear and repair resulted in improvement in pain and total scores of both JOA (66.8 vs 94.1) and ASES (37.1 vs 91.0). CONCLUSIONS: Intratendinous rotator cuff tears were difficult to diagnose preoperatively. Our data suggest that conservative treatment failed, anterior acromioplasty and excision of the diseased portion of the tendon, followed by tenorrhaphy, proved effective. Satisfactory outcomes were achieved in 18 patients (94.7%) in this series.

Original publication




Journal article


J Shoulder Elbow Surg

Publication Date





837 - 846


Adult, Aged, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Muscle Strength, Orthopedic Procedures, Range of Motion, Articular, Retrospective Studies, Rotator Cuff, Rotator Cuff Injuries, Rupture, Shoulder Joint, Suture Techniques, Time Factors, Treatment Outcome