Skip to main content
Log in

Rotator cuff tendon connections with the rotator cable

  • Shoulder
  • Published:
Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy Aims and scope



The literature currently contains no descriptions of the rotator cuff tendons, which also describes in relation to the presence and characteristics of the rotator cable (anatomically known as the ligamentum semicirculare humeri). The aim of the current study was to elucidate the detailed anatomy of the rotator cuff tendons in association with the rotator cable.


Anatomic dissection was performed on 21 fresh-frozen shoulder specimens with an average age of 68 years. The rotator cuff tendons were dissected from each other and from the glenohumeral joint capsule, and the superior glenohumeral, coracohumeral, coracoglenoidal and semicircular (rotator cable) ligaments were dissected. Dissection was performed layer by layer and from the bursal side to the joint. All ligaments and tendons were dissected in fine detail.


The rotator cable was found in all specimens. It was tightly connected to the supraspinatus (SSP) tendon, which was partly covered by the infraspinatus (ISP) tendon. The posterior insertion area of the rotator cable was located in the region between the middle and inferior facets of the greater tubercle of the humerus insertion areas for the teres minor (TM), and ISP tendons were also present and fibres from the SSP extended through the rotator cable to those areas.


The connection between the rotator cable and rotator cuff tendons is tight and confirms the suspension bridge theory for rotator cuff tears in most areas between the SSP tendons and rotator cable. In its posterior insertion area, the rotator cable is a connecting structure between the TM, ISP and SSP tendons. These findings might explain why some patients with relatively large rotator cuff tears can maintain seamless shoulder function.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Burkhart SS, Esch JC, Jolson RS (1993) The rotator crescents and rotator cable: an anatomic description of the shoulder’s “suspension bridge”. Arthroscopy 9:611–616

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Curtis AS, Burbank KM, Tierney JJ, Scheller AD, Curran AR (2006) The insertional footprint of the rotator cuff: an anatomic study. Arthroscopy 22(609):e1

    Google Scholar 

  3. DePalma AF, Gallery G, Bennet GA (1949) Variational anatomy and degenerative lesions of the shoulder joint. In: Blount W (ed) American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Instructional Course Lectures, vol 6. JW Edwards, Ann Arbor, MI, pp 225–281

  4. Halder AM, O’Driscoll SW, Heers G, Mura N, Zobitz ME, An KN, Kreusch-Brinker R (2002) Biomechanical comparison of effects of supraspinatus tendon detachments, tendon defects, and muscle retractions. J Bone Joint Surg Am 84-A:780–785

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Kask K, Kolts I, Lubienski A, Russlies M, Leibecke T, Busch LC (2008) Magnetic resonance imaging and correlative gross anatomy of the ligamentum semicirculare humeri (rotator cable). Clin Anat 21:420–426

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Kolts I, Busch LC, Tomusk H, Arend A, Eller A, Merila M, Russlies M (2000) Anatomy of the coracohumeral and coracoglenoidal ligaments. Ann Anat 182:563–566

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Mochizuki T, Sugaya H, Uomizu M, Maeda K, Matsuki K, Sekiya I, Muneta T, Akita K (2009) Humeral insertion of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus. New anatomical findings regarding the footprint of the rotator cuff. Surgical technique. J Bone Joint Surg Am 91(Suppl 2 Pt 1):1–7

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Ruotolo C, Fow JE, Nottage WM (2004) The supraspinatus footprint: an anatomic study of the supraspinatus insertion. Arthroscopy 20:246–249

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Vahlensieck M, An Haack K, Schmidt H-M (1994) Two portions of the supraspinatus muscle: a new finding about the muscles macroscopy by dissection and magnetic resonance imaging. Surg Radiol Anat 16:101–104

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Madis Rahu.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rahu, M., Kolts, I., Põldoja, E. et al. Rotator cuff tendon connections with the rotator cable. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 25, 2047–2050 (2017).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: