Vascularity of the supraspinatus tendon three months after repair: Characterization using contrast-enhanced ultrasound

Seth C. Gamradt, Robert A. Gallo, Ronald S. Adler, Alex Maderazo, David W. Altchek, Russell F. Warren, Stephen Fealy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Background: There has been limited in-vivo assessment of rotator cuff vascularity following repair. This study aims to characterize the vascularity of the shoulder 3 months following supraspinatus tendon repair. Methods: Twenty-nine patients (average age, 61.4 years) underwent Perflutren lipid microsphere contrast-enhanced shoulder ultrasound examinations 3 months after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. Each shoulder was scanned at rest and following exercise using linear phased array 9-MHz transducer optimized to detect the contrast agent. Blood flow was quantified off-line using ultrasound imaging quantification and analysis software (QLAB, Philips, Andover, MA). Peak enhancement (vascular volume) and rate of rise (perfusion) were determined for 3 regions of interest: peribursal area, supraspinatus tendon, and anchor site. Results: Peak enhancement and rate of rise were greatest in the peribursal soft tissue and anchor site. Resting peak enhancement and rate of rise were significantly lower within the tendon compared to the other 2 regions (P < .001). Exercise resulted in increased enhancement and rate-of-rise to all 3 regions, but had a significant predilection towards increasing vascular volume within the peri-bursal region (P = .026). Conclusion: At 3 months following repair, the majority of blood flow to the repair is derived from the peribursal soft tissues and the anchor site. The tendon, particularly those with a defect at 3 months, is relatively avascular. Though limited by inclusion of only a single time point, this study introduces a new technique to quantify vascularity following supraspinatus repairs and suggests that the surrounding vascular milieu may play a role in tendon healing. Level of Evidence: Basic Science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-80
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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