A novel 3D MRI-based approach for assessing supraspinatus muscle length.

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Journal of biomechanics


Rotator cuff (RC) tears are a common source of pain and decreased shoulder strength. Muscle length is known to affect muscle strength, and therefore evaluating changes in supraspinatus muscle length associated with RC pathology, surgical repair, and post-operative recovery may provide insights into functional deficits. Our objective was to develop a reliable MRI-based approach for assessing supraspinatus muscle length. Using a new semi-automated approach for identifying 3D location of the muscle-tendon junction (MTJ), supraspinatus muscle length was calculated as the sum of MTJ distance (distance between 3D MTJ position and glenoid plane) and supraspinatus fossa length (distance between root of the scapular spine and glenoid plane). Inter- and intra-operator reliability of this technique were assessed with intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and found to be excellent (ICCs > 0.96). Muscle lengths of 6 patients were determined before RC repair surgery and at 3- and 12-months post-surgery. Changes in normalized muscle length (muscle length as a percentage of pre-surgical muscle length) at 3 months post-surgery varied considerably across patients (16.1 % increase to 7.0 % decrease) but decreased in all patients from 3- to 12-months post-surgery (0.3 % to 17.2 %). This study developed a novel and reliable approach for quantifying supraspinatus muscle length and provided preliminary demonstration of its utility by assessing muscle length changes associated with RC pathology and surgical repair. Future studies can use this technique to evaluate changes over time in supraspinatus muscle length in response to clinical intervention, and associations between muscle length and shoulder function.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Rotator Cuff; Male; Rotator Cuff Injuries; Middle Aged; Female; Imaging, Three-Dimensional; Aged; Adult; Muscle, Skeletal; Reproducibility of Results

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