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BACKGROUND: Proper diagnosis of rotator cuff tears is typically established with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); however, studies show that MRI-derived measurements of tear severity may not align with patient-reported pain and shoulder function. The purpose of this study is to investigate the capacity for the Patient-reported Outcomes Measurements Information System (PROMIS) computer adaptive tests to predict rotator cuff tear severity by correlating preoperative tear morphology observed on MRI with PROMIS upper extremity (UE) and pain interference (PI) scores. This is the first study to investigate the relationship between tear characteristics and preoperative patient-reported symptoms using PROMIS. Considering the essential roles MRI and patient-reported outcomes play in the management of rotator cuff tears, the findings of this study have important implications for both treatment planning and outcome reporting.

METHODS: Two PROMIS-computer adaptive test forms (PROMIS-UE and PROMIS-PI) were provided to all patients undergoing rotator cuff repair by one of three fellowship-trained surgeons at a single institution. Demographic information including age, sex, race, employment status, body mass index, smoking status, zip code, and preoperative PROMIS-UE and -PI scores was prospectively recorded. A retrospective chart review of small to large full- or partial-thickness rotator cuff tears between May 1, 2017 and February 27, 2019 was used to collect each patient's MRI-derived tear dimensions and determine tendon involvement.

RESULTS: Our cohort consisted of 180 patients (56.7% male, 43.3% female) with an average age of 58.9 years (standard deviation, 9.0). There was no significant difference in PROMIS-UE or -PI scores based on which rotator cuff tendons were involved in the tear (P > .05). Neither PROMIS-UE nor PROMIS-PI significantly correlated with tear length or retraction length of the supraspinatus tendon (P > .05). The sum of tear lengths in the anterior-posterior and medial-lateral directions was weakly correlated with PROMIS-UE (P = .042; r = -0.152, r = .031) and PROMIS-PI (P = .027; r = 0.165, r = 0.012).

CONCLUSION: Rotator cuff tear severity does not significantly relate to preoperative PROMIS-UE and -PI scores. This finding underscores the importance of obtaining a balanced preoperative assessment of rotator cuff tears that acknowledges the inconsistent relationship between rotator cuff tear characteristics observed on MRI and patient-reported pain and physical function.

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