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Humeral head cysts: association with rotator cuff tears and age

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The objective of this study was to retrospectively evaluate the prevalence of the cystic changes at rotator cuff footprint on proximal humeral tuberosities and investigate their relationship with rotator cuff tears and patient age. Magnetic resonance (MR) images of 657 patients who underwent shoulder arthroscopy for treatment of rotator cuff disorders were reviewed to localize the cystic changes at anterior (supraspinatus insertion) and posterior (infraspinatus insertion) aspects of greater tuberosity (GT) and lesser tuberosity (subscapularis insertion). Preoperative MR reports as well as cyst size and locations on MR images were correlated with arthroscopic records of rotator cuff pathology (tear type, size, location and tendon involvement) and patient age. The prevalence of cystic changes was 9.1 % (60 patients) in the study population. Anterior GT cysts were found in 56 % of patients and were strongly associated with full-thickness (p < .001) and articular-sided partial-thickness rotator cuff tears (p = .02). Posterior GT and lesser tuberosity cysts were found in 27 and 17 % of patients, respectively, and were not significantly related to rotator cuff tears, although there was an increased trend of posterior cysts in patients with infraspinatus tears (p = .09). A significant relation was found between patient age and the cyst size (p = .01), while none of the cyst localizations were statistically related to age. Anterior GT cysts were more common in this patient group and demonstrated a strong association with rotator cuff disorders regardless of age. Posterior GT and lesser tuberosity cysts were less common and showed no association with rotator cuff pathology or patient age.

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Conflict of interest

We hereby state that all ethical, legal and patient rights wise considerations were fulfilled during and after this report. We report no possible conflicts of interest with any institutions or companies and also no outside funding or grants. None of the researchers or an affiliated institute received from a commercial entity something of value related in any way to this report. The investigation was performed at Gazi University Hospital, Ankara, Turkey.

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Correspondence to Ulunay Kanatli.

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Suluova, F., Kanatli, U., Ozturk, B.Y. et al. Humeral head cysts: association with rotator cuff tears and age. Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol 24, 733–739 (2014).

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