Traumatic rotator cuff tears in patients younger than 25 years are rare events, with few reports in the literature. When compared with the more mature shoulder, the young, healthy supraspinatus tendon is a robust tendon that is able to absorb a significant amount of energy before tendon failure. Therefore, the diagnosis of a rotator cuff tear can be often overlooked in this population due to the patient's age. This is a report of traumatic supraspinatus repairs in patients younger than 25 years. Nine patients younger than 25 years were identified with a posttraumatic supraspinatus tear as visualized during routine diagnostic shoulder arthroscopy. These 9 patients represented 0.33% of all rotator cuff repairs during a 9 year period. Average patient age was 19.1 years (±3.7 years; range, 13 to 25 years). Magnetic resonance imaging failed to diagnose a rotator cuff tear in 50% of the patients. Mean delay from injury to surgery was 6.6 months. All tears were arthroscopically repaired. Concomitant anterior instability pathology was demonstrated among 66.7% of the patients. No complications were reported. At latest follow-up, all patients reported minimal to no shoulder pain and were tolerating strenuous work, activities, and sports without significant complaints. Even with advanced imaging, the diagnosis of a rotator cuff tear can often be missed in this patient population. Although clinical outcomes can be good, care must be taken to broaden the diagnostic differential in young patients with posttraumatic shoulder pain.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine