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Utility of MRI in the Evaluation of Acute Greater Tuberosity Proximal Humeral Fractures



Understanding soft tissue injury patterns associated with greater tuberosity (GT) fractures may help clinicians provide guidance to patients.


Evaluating magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in patients with suspected isolated GT fractures will help elucidate the role of MRI in the diagnosis and treatment of these patients.

Study design

Case series; Level of evidence, 4.


We performed a retrospective review of medical records from 2010 to 2014 for patients presenting with acute isolated GT fractures and MRI. Uncomplicated and delayed recovery groups were established according to the need for delayed procedural intervention or persistent symptoms past last recorded follow-up. Multivariate regression analysis was used to analyze the relationships between MRI findings and delayed recovery.


A total of 32 patients met the inclusion criteria (mean age, 47 years [range, 24-88 years]; mean follow-up, 30 weeks [range, 33 days-4 years]). There was no significant difference in the estimation of fracture displacement as measured on radiography and compared with MRI (radiography, 2.8 mm; MRI, 3.5 mm; P = .16). There was a high incidence of full-thickness rotator cuff tears (9%), partial-thickness rotator cuff tears (72%), partial biceps tendon tears (41%), and labral tears (50%). Presence of biceps pathology or partial-thickness rotator cuff tear was predictive of delayed recovery in a multivariate model.


There is a high incidence of soft tissue injury found by MRI following GT fracture. MRI did not appreciably change the measure of displacement of the fracture fragment. In the multivariate analysis, presence of a partial-thickness rotator cuff tear or biceps tendon injury was associated with delayed recovery.

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