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Journal of the Korean Shoulder and Elbow Society 1998;1(2):266-277.
Published online November 30, 1998.
Arthroscopic Treatment of Partial-thickness Rotator Cuff Tear
Seung-Ho Kim, M.D., Kwon-Ick Ha, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, College of Medicine, Kyun Kwan University, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
Forty-nine partial thickness rotator cuff tears underwent arthroscopic debridement or repair, and were followed up for a minimum of two years. Follow-up evaluations of the results were completed using a detailed functional questionnaire which was comprised of a rating of the UCLA shoulder scale and return to the previous sports activity and job. The average age of the 49 study patients was 46.5 years(range, 14 to 67 years). The patients were divided into four groups on the basis of the onset of the patient's symptoms. Thirty-five patients(72%) had partial tearing only on the articular surface, six(12%) on the bursal surface, and eight(16%) on both surfaces. Group I consisted of 21 patients with an average age of 56.7. Partial tearing in group I was attributed to the impingement syndrome. In group II, partial tearing of the rotator cuff was related to the anterior instability of the shoulder. This group included 9 patients with an average age of 27.9. In group III, all of the 8 patients were overhead athletes with an average age of 21.8. In this group, no isolated instances of significant trauma were related to the development of the shoulder pain. In group IV, 11 patients noted that a significant traumatic event preceded the onset of their pain. The average age of the patients was 34.9. Overall, 82% of the patients demonstrated satisfactory results and 18% revealed unsatisfactory results. The worst UCLA score and rate of return to the prior activity was noted in group III. In conclusion, partial thickness rotator cuff tear can be caused by subacromial impingement, instability, repetitive microtrauma, and macrotrauma. Arthroscopic debridement of partial tear of the rotator cuff provides a favorable outcome except in overhead athletes.
Key Words: Rotator cuff tear; Partial-thickness; Arthroscopic treatment


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