A Review of Rotator Cuff Classifications in Current Use



To better understand the natural history of rotator cuff disease and its treatment, it is crucial to find a reliable method of classifying or describing rotator cuff tears. We can then use this classification to identify appropriate treatments for each type of tear that lead to the best outcomes. There are many rotator cuff classification systems in use today, making it difficult to compare results and to agree on proper treatment. In addition, when using any system, surgeons may not always agree on how a particular tear is classified.


Rotator Cuff Rotator Cuff Tear Fatty Infiltration Rotator Cuff Repair Tear Tendon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Kuhn JE, Dunn WR, Ma B et al (2007) Interobserver agreement in the classification of rotator cuff tears. Am J Sports Med 35:437–441PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    DeOrio JK, Cofield RH (1984) Results of a second attempt at surgical repair of a failed initial rotator cuff repair. J Bone Joint Surg Am 66:563–567PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ellman H (1993) Rotator cuff disorders. In: Ellman H, Gartsman GM (eds) Arthroscopic shoulder surgery and related disorders. Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia, pp 98–119Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Harryman DT, Mack LA, Wang K, Jackins SE, Richardson ML, Matsen FA (1991) Repairs of the rotator cuff. Correlation of functional results with integrity of the cuff. J Bone Joint Surg Am 73:982–989PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Patte D (1990) Classification of rotator cuff lesions. Clin Orthop Relat Res 254:81–86PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wolfgang GL (1974) Surgical repairs of tears of the rotator cuff of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg Am 56:14–26PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lippe J, Spang JT, Leger RR, Arciero RA, Mazzocca AD, Shea KP (2012) Inter-rater agreement of the Goutallier, Patte, and Warner classification scores using preoperative magnetic resonance imaging in patients with rotator cuff tears. Arthrosc: J Arthrosc Relat Surg 28(2)(February):154–159Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ellman H (1990) Diagnosis and treatment of incomplete rotator cuff tears. Clin Orthop Relat Res 254:64–74Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Snyder SJ (2003) Arthroscopic classification of rotator cuff lesions and surgical decision making. In: Snyder SJ (ed) Shoulder arthroscopy. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, pp 201–207Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Habermeyer P, Magosch P, Lichtenberg S (2006) Classifications of rotator cuff. In: Walch G, Boileau P (eds) Classifications and scores of the shoulder. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Habermeyer P, Krieter MC, Tang K-L, Lichtenberg S, Magosch P (2008) A new arthroscopic classification of articular-sided supraspinatus footprint lesions: a prospective comparison with Snyder’s and Ellman’s classification. J Shoulder Elbow Surg (Nov–Dec) 17(6):909–913Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bayne O, Bateman J (1984) Long-term results of surgical repair of full-thickness rotator cuff tears. In: Bateman JE, Welsh R (eds) Surgery of the shoulder. CV Mosby, Philadelphia, pp 167–171Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Davidson J, Burkhart SS (2010) The geometric classification of rotator cuff tears: a system linking tear pattern to treatment and prognosis. Arthroscopy 26:417–424PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Nho SJ, Brown BS, Lyman S, Adler RS, Altchek DW, MacGillivray JD (2009) Prospective analysis of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair: prognostic factors affecting clinical and ultrasound outcome. J Shoulder Elbow Surg (Jan–Feb 2009) 18(1):13–20. Epub: 16 Sept 2008Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Spencer EE, Dunn WR, Wright RW et al (2008) Interobserver agreement in the classification of rotator cuff tears using magnetic resonance imaging. Am J Sports Med 36:99–103PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Goutallier D, Postel JM, Bernageau J, Lavau L, Voisin MC (1994) Fatty muscle degeneration in cuff ruptures. Pre- and postoperative evaluation by CT scan. Clin Orthop Relat Res 304:78–83Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Oh JH, Kim SH, Ji HM, Jo KH, Bin SW, Gong HS (2009) Prognostic factors affecting anatomic outcome of rotator cuff repair and correlation with functional outcome. Arthroscopy 25:30–39PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Gladstone JN, Bishop JY, Lo IK, Flatow EL (2007) Fatty infiltration and atrophy of the rotator cuff do not improve after rotator cuff repair and correlate with poor functional outcome. Am J Sports Med 35:719–728PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Melis B, Nemoz C, Walch G (2009) Muscle fatty infiltration in rotator cuff tears: Descriptive analysis of 1688 cases. Orthop Traumatol Surg Res 95:319–324PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fuchs B, Weishaupt D, Zanetti M, Hodler J, Gerber C (1999) Fatty degeneration of the muscles of the rotator cuff: assessment by computed tomography versus magnetic resonance imaging. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 8:599–605PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Warner JJP, Higgins L, Parsons IM IV, Dowdy P (2001) Diagnosis and treatment of anterosuperior rotator cuff tears. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 10:37–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© ISAKOS 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal University of Sao PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.CETE-UNIFESP-EPMSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryInsituto Argentino de Diagnostico y TratamientoBuenos AiresArgentina

Personalised recommendations