October 22nd, 2012 , J Shoulder Elbow Surg

Relationship of radiographic acromial characteristics and rotator cuff disease: a prospective investigation of clinical, radiographic, and sonographic findings


Many studies have attempted to correlate radiographic acromial characteristics with rotator cuff tears, but the results have not been conclusive. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between rotator cuff disease and development of symptoms with different radiographic acromial characteristics including shape, index, and presence of a spur.


The records of 216 patients enrolled in an ongoing prospective, longitudinal study investigating asymptomatic rotator cuff tears were reviewed. All patients underwent standardized radiographic evaluation, clinical evaluation, and shoulder ultrasonography at regularly scheduled surveillance visits. Three blinded observers reviewed all radiographs to determine the acromial morphology, presence and size of an acromial spur, and acromial index. These findings were analyzed to determine an association with the presence of a full-thickness rotator cuff tear.


The three observers demonstrated poor agreement for acromial morphology, substantial agreement for the presence of an acromial spur, and excellent agreement for acromial index (kappa= 0.41, 0.65, and 0.86 respectively). The presence of an acromial spur was highly associated with the presence of a full-thickness rotator cuff tear (p=0.003) even after adjusting for age. No association was found between acromial index and rotator cuff disease (p=0.92).


Level III, Cross-Sectional Study Design, Epidemiology Study


The presence of an acromial spur is highly associated with the presence of a fullthickness rotator cuff tear in both the symptomatic and asymptomatic patient. The acromial morphology classification system is an unreliable method to assess the acromion. The acromial index shows no association with the presence of rotator cuff disease.