Partial-thickness Tears of the Rotator Cuff: Current Concepts in Diagnosis and Treatment

Abstract

Partial-thickness tears of the rotator cuff are among the clinical manifestations of disease of the rotator cuff. The true prevalence of such tears is unknown, making it difficult to formulate guidelines for their treatment, and their etiology is obscure. Their pathophysiology is often multifactorial, and the anatomic variation in these tears results from the multiple factors that contribute to them. Injury to the rotator cuff typically involves traumatic or microtraumatic lesions, often in association with superior labrum from anterior to posterior (SLAP) tears and/or lesions, creating instability of the shoulder. In general, if nonsurgical management fails, the standard of care for partial-thickness tears of the rotator cuff should involve arthroscopic management. An in-depth understanding of both the static and dynamic anatomy of the rotator cuff and associated structures will assist the physician in determining the appropriate treatment for tears of the rotator cuff.

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