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Do Outcomes of Arthroscopic Subscapularis Tendon Repairs Depend on Rotator Cuff Fatty Infiltration?



Rotator cuff fatty infiltration has been correlated with poorer radiographic and clinical outcomes in supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendon repairs, but this has not been well-studied in subscapularis tendon repairs.


To evaluate the influence of preoperative rotator cuff fatty infiltration on postoperative outcomes for patients undergoing arthroscopic subscapularis tendon repair.

Study design

Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.


Patients who underwent arthroscopic subscapularis repair between 2010 and 2016 were retrospectively identified, and demographic data and surgical findings were recorded. The extent of fatty infiltration was determined on preoperative magnetic resonance imaging by the Fuchs modification of the Goutallier classification. At the most recent follow-up, patients completed the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System for Upper Extremity (PROMIS-UE) computer adaptive test and a postoperative visual analog scale for pain. The distribution of fatty infiltration was compared between patients undergoing subscapularis tendon repair versus subscapularis tendon repair combined with a posterior cuff repair. Outcomes were compared for patients using Goutallier grade 0-1 versus grade ≥2 changes in each rotator cuff muscle. Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed to evaluate the influence of muscle quality, as well as demographic factors, on PROMIS-UE scores. Significance was defined as P < .05.


There were 140 shoulders included (mean age, 61.8 years; 42.1% female; mean follow-up, 51.7 months). The prevalence of Goutallier grade 2 changes or higher was significantly greater in patients with multitendon repair relative to isolated subscapularis tendon repair. For the overall group of all patients undergoing subscapularis tendon repair, whether in isolation or as part of a multitendon repair, PROMIS-UE scores were significantly lower for patients with infraspinatus muscle grade 2 or higher Goutallier changes relative to grade 0 or 1. After adjustment for age, body mass index, patient sex, and fatty infiltration in other rotator cuff muscles, poor infraspinatus muscle quality remained the only significant predictor for lower PROMIS-UE scores.


Patients undergoing arthroscopic subscapularis tendon repair with poor infraspinatus muscle quality had worse patient-reported outcomes. This was true whether subscapularis tendon repair was isolated or was performed in conjunction with supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendon repairs.

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