Quantitative assessment of fatty infiltration and muscle volume of the rotator cuff muscles using 3-dimensional 2-point Dixon magnetic resonance imaging

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Background: In patients with rotator cuff tears, muscle degeneration is known to be a predictor of irreparable tears and poor outcomes after surgical repair. Fatty infiltration and volume of the whole muscles constituting the rotator cuff were quantitatively assessed using 3-dimensional 2-point Dixon magnetic resonance imaging. Methods: Ten shoulders with a partial-thickness tear, 10 shoulders with an isolated supraspinatus tear, and 10 shoulders with a massive tear involving supraspinatus and infraspinatus were compared with 10 control shoulders after matching age and sex. With segmentation of muscle boundaries, the fat fraction value and the volume of the whole rotator cuff muscles were computed. After reliabilities were determined, differences in fat fraction, muscle volume, and fat-free muscle volume were evaluated. Results: Intra-rater and inter-rater reliabilities were regarded as excellent for fat fraction and muscle volume. Tendon rupture adversely increased the fat fraction value of the respective rotator cuff muscle (P < .002). In the massive tear group, muscle volume was significantly decreased in the infraspinatus (P = .035) and increased in the teres minor (P = .039). With subtraction of fat volume, a significant decrease of fat-free volume of the supraspinatus muscle became apparent with a massive tear (P = .003). Conclusion: Three-dimensional measurement could evaluate fatty infiltration and muscular volume with excellent reliabilities. The present study showed that chronic rupture of the tendon adversely increases the fat fraction of the respective muscle and indicates that the residual capacity of the rotator cuff muscles might be overestimated in patients with severe fatty infiltration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2017



  • Case Series
  • Diagnostic Study
  • Fat fraction
  • Fatty infiltration
  • Level IV
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Quantitative assessment
  • Rotator cuff tear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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