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This article is the authors’ final published version in JSES International, Volume 4, Issue 3, September 2020, Pages 601-605.

The published version is available at Copyright © Lu et al.


Introduction: Critical shoulder angle (CSA) has been shown to influence rates of rotator cuff tears and glenohumeral arthritis with a larger CSA associated with rotator cuff tears and a smaller CSA associated with glenohumeral arthritis. There has been no study to determine whether such radiographic measurement influences the function of patients with demonstrated cuff tear arthropathy (CTA). The purpose of this study was to examine whether smaller CSAs were associated with greater range of motion (ROM) in patients diagnosed with CTA.

Materials and methods: Ninety-three patients with a diagnosis of CTA with adequate anteroposterior shoulder radiographs were included in the study. Patient demographics were recorded. The presence of a rotator cuff tear was confirmed via advanced imaging or when applicable via the operative report. Patients' ROM was evaluated through the physician's office note. Shoulder radiographs were used to measure CSA, glenoid inclination, acromial index (AI), and acromiohumeral interval. Patient ROM was measured and grouped into 2 different tiered cohorts: cohort 1 had 4 subgroups of forward elevation (FE) (ie, ≤45°, 45°-90°, 91°-135°, and 136°-180°) and cohort 2 had 2 subgroups of FE (ie, ≤90° and >90°). We then analyzed FE between these groups in the context of their radiographic measurements.

Results: The average patient age was 73.8 ± 8.0 years. There was no significant difference in acromiohumeral interval. AI was found to be significantly different between patients presenting with ≤90° in FE compared with those >90° (P = .02). Average CSA was significantly lower in patients with FE greater than 90° at 33.7° ± 3.9° compared with patients with FE less than 90° at 37.1° ± 6.3° (P = .002). There was also a significant difference with regard to CSAs, with those patients with FE ≤ 45° having a mean CSA of 38.2° ± 8.3° compared with those patients with FE ≥ 135° having a mean CSA of 33.3° ± 4.3° (P = .02).

Conclusion: Patients diagnosed with CTA can significantly vary in their shoulder function and ability to forward elevate. Lower CSA was found to be associated with higher FE in patients with CTA preoperatively. In addition, patients with a smaller AI were also found to have better overhead function. Analyzing CSA on plain radiographs may help manage functional expectations in patients with CTA.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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