Surgical repair for large rotator cuff tear remains challenging due to tear size, altered muscle mechanical properties, and poor musculotendinous extensibility. Insufficient extensibility might lead to an incomplete reconstruction; moreover, excessive stresses after repair may result in repair failure without healing. Therefore, estimates of extensibility of cuff muscles can help in pre-surgical planning to prevent unexpected scenarios during surgery. The purpose of this study was to determine if quantified mechanical properties of the supraspinatus muscle using shear wave elastography (SWE) could be used to predict the extensibility of the musculotendinous unit on cadaveric specimens. Forty-five fresh-frozen cadaveric shoulders (25 intact and 20 with rotator cuff tear) were used for the study. Passive stiffness of 4 anatomical regions in the supraspinatus muscle was first measured using SWE. After detaching the distal edge of supraspinatus muscle from other cuff muscles, the detached muscle was axially pulled with the scapula fixed. The correlation between the SWE modulus and the extensibility of the muscle under 30 and 60 N loads was assessed. There was a significant negative correlation between SWE measurements and the experimental extensibility. SWE modulus for the anterior-deep region in the supraspinatus muscle showed the strongest correlation with extensibility under 30 N (r = 0.70, P < 0.001) and 60 N (r = 0.68, P < 0.001). Quantitative SWE assessment for the supraspinatus muscle was highly correlated with extensibility of musculotendinous unit on cadaveric shoulders. This technique may be used to predict the extensibility for rotator cuff tears for pre-surgical planning.
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