Skeletal Radiology

, Volume 40, Issue 10, pp 1335–1344 | Cite as

The teres minor muscle in rotator cuff tendon tears

  • Barbara Melis
  • Michael J. DeFranco
  • Alexandre Lädermann
  • Renaud Barthelemy
  • Gilles Walch
Scientific Article



Although the teres minor has received little attention in the literature compared to the other musculotendinous units of the rotator cuff, it is an important component of shoulder function. Our purpose was to study the appearance of the teres minor muscle on CT and MRI images in various patterns of rotator cuff tears.

Materials and methods

We analyzed the appearance of the teres minor according to the Walch classification (normal, hypertrophic, atrophic, or absent) in 1,332 CT and in 240 MRI images of rotator cuff tears and we correlated it with the type of rotator cuff tears, time period between initial onset of symptoms and diagnostic imaging, age of the patient at the time of imaging, and degree of fatty infiltration of other rotator cuff muscles.


The teres minor was classified as normal in 90.8% of cases, hypertrophic in 5.8%, atrophic in 3.2%, and absent in 0.2%. Significant variability existed in the appearance of the teres minor muscle among different patterns of rotator cuff tears in the CT (P < 0.0001) and MRI groups (P < 0.0001). The teres minor appeared most frequently hypertrophic in anterior tears and atrophic in posterior-superior tears.


The teres minor was normal in most rotator cuff tears. A morphologic classification system allowed the appearance of the teres minor to be defined in isolated and multiple rotator cuff tears in CT and MRI images.


Shoulder Rotator cuff Tendon tear Teres minor Muscle appearance 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© ISS 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Melis
    • 1
  • Michael J. DeFranco
    • 2
  • Alexandre Lädermann
    • 3
  • Renaud Barthelemy
    • 4
  • Gilles Walch
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre Orthopédique SantyLyonFrance
  2. 2.Lenox Hill HospitalNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and TraumatologyUniversity Hospitals of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyClinique du MailGrenobleFrance

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