Three-dimensional scapular morphology is associated with rotator cuff tears and alters the abduction moment arm of the supraspinatus.
Lee ECS, Roach NT, Clouthier AL, Bicknell RT, Bey MJ, Young NM, and Rainbow MJ. Three-dimensional scapular morphology is associated with rotator cuff tears and alters the abduction moment arm of the supraspinatus. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon) 2020; 78.
BACKGROUND: Numerous studies have reported an association between rotator cuff injury and two-dimensional measures of scapular morphology. However, the mechanical underpinnings explaining how these shape features affect glenohumeral joint function and lead to injury are poorly understood. We hypothesized that three-dimensional features of scapular morphology differentiate asymptomatic shoulders from those with rotator cuff tears, and that these features would alter the mechanical advantage of the supraspinatus.
METHODS: Twenty-four individuals with supraspinatus tears and twenty-seven age-matched controls were recruited. A statistical shape analysis identified scapular features distinguishing symptomatic patients from asymptomatic controls. We examined the effect of injury-associated morphology on mechanics by developing a morphable model driven by six degree-of-freedom biplanar videoradiography data. We used the model to simulate abduction for a range of shapes and computed the supraspinatus moment arm.
FINDINGS: Rotator cuff injury was associated with a cranial orientation of the glenoid and scapular spine (P = .011, d = 0.75) and/or decreased subacromial space (P = .001, d = 0.94). The shape analysis also identified previously undocumented features associated with superior inclination and subacromial narrowing. In our computational model, warping the scapula from a cranial to a lateral orientation increased the supraspinatus moment arm at 20° of abduction and decreased the moment arm at 160° of abduction.
INTERPRETATIONS: Three-dimensional analysis of scapular morphology indicates a stronger relationship between morphology and cuff tears than two-dimensional measures. Insight into how morphological features affect rotator cuff mechanics may improve patient-specific strategies for prevention and treatment of cuff tears.