• rotator cuff;
  • muscle;
  • tendon;
  • fiber bundles;
  • pennation angle;
  • sonography;
  • imaging;
  • ultrasound


Architectural changes associated with tendon tears of the supraspinatus muscle (SP) have not been thoroughly investigated in vivo with the muscle in relaxed and contracted states. The purpose of this study was to quantify the geometric properties within the distinct regions of SP in subjects with full-thickness tendon tears using an ultrasound protocol previously developed in our laboratory, and to compare findings with age/gender matched normal controls. Twelve SP from eight participants (6 male/2 female), mean age 57 ± 6.0 years, were investigated. Muscle geometric properties of the anterior region (middle and deep parts) and posterior region (deep part) were measured using image analysis software. Along with whole muscle thickness, fiber bundle length (FBL) and pennation angle (PA) were computed for architecturally distinct regions and/or parts. Pathologic SP was categorized according to the extent of the tear in the tendon (with or without retraction). In the anterior region, mean FBL of the pathologic SP was similar with normal controls; however, mean PA was significantly smaller in pathologic SP with retraction compared with normal controls, in the contracted state (P < 0.05). Mean FBL in the posterior region in both relaxed and contracted states was significantly shorter in the pathologic SP with retraction compared with normal controls (P < 0.05). Findings suggest FBL changes associated with tendon pathology vary between the distinct regions, and PA changes are related to whether there is retraction of the tendon. The ultrasound protocol may provide important information on architectural changes that may assist in decision making and surgical planning. Clin. Anat., 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.