Biomechanical analysis of bursal-sided partial thickness rotator cuff tears

Scott Yang, Hyung Soon Park, Steven Flores, Steven D. Levin, Mohsen Makhsous, Fang Lin, Jason Koh, Gordon Nuber, Li Qun Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Treatment of partial thickness supraspinatus tendon tears is controversial with no clearly defined treatment algorithms based on severity of tears. This study aims to evaluate the relationship between depth of partial thickness tears and strain. Methods: Bursal-sided partial thickness tears were created at 1 mm increments in depth at the anterior portion of the supraspinatus tendon to 3/4 tendon width on ten fresh-frozen shoulder specimens. The supraspinatus muscle was dynamically loaded from 0-50N, and strain recorded at both the anterior and posterior portions of the tendon. Results: Strain in the intact posterior portion increased monotonically with tear depth and supraspinatus force. Strain in the torn anterior portion decreased with increasing tear thickness and loading force. At 60% thickness tear, strain was significantly higher (P = 0.023) in the intact posterior portion compared to intact tendon. As the tear thickness exceeded 50% tendon thickness, the strain in the intact tendon rapidly increased nonlinearly. Conclusions: Biomechanical results herein suggest increasing potential for tear propagation in the transverse plane with increasing depth of tears, and biomechanically supports repairs of grade III (>50% thickness). Level of evidence: Basic science study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Rotator cuff
  • dynamic loading
  • partial thickness tear
  • rotator cuff tear
  • supraspinatus tendon
  • tendon strain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Biomechanical analysis of bursal-sided partial thickness rotator cuff tears'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this