The Rotator Interval: Pathology and Management

The Steadman Clinic, Vail, Colorado 81657, USA.
Arthroscopy The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery (Impact Factor: 3.21). 02/2011; 27(4):556-67. DOI: 10.1016/j.arthro.2010.10.004
Source: PubMed


The rotator interval describes the anatomic space bounded by the subscapularis, supraspinatus, and coracoid. This space contains the coracohumeral and superior glenohumeral ligament, the biceps tendon, and anterior joint capsule. Although a definitive role of the rotator interval structures has not been established, it is apparent that they contribute to shoulder dysfunction. Contracture or scarring of rotator interval structures can manifest as adhesive capsulitis. It is typically managed nonsurgically with local injections and gentle shoulder therapy. Recalcitrant cases have been successfully managed with an arthroscopic interval release and manipulation. Conversely, laxity of rotator interval structures may contribute to glenohumeral instability. In some cases this can be managed with one of a number of arthroscopic interval closure techniques. Instability of the biceps tendon is often a direct result of damage to the rotator interval. Damage to the biceps pulley structures can lead to biceps tendon subluxation or dislocation depending on the structures injured. Although some authors describe reconstruction of this tissue sling, most recommend tenodesis or tenotomy if it is significantly damaged. Impingement between the coracoid and lesser humeral tuberosity is a relatively well-established, yet less common cause of anterior shoulder pain. It may also contribute to injury of the anterosuperior rotator cuff and rotator interval structures. Although radiographic indices are described, it appears intraoperative dynamic testing may be more helpful in substantiating the diagnosis. A high index of suspicion should be used in association with biceps pulley damage or anterosuperior rotator cuff tears. Coracoid impingement can be treated with either open or arthroscopic techniques. We review the anatomy and function of the rotator interval. The presentation, physical examination, imaging characteristics, and management strategies are discussed for various diagnoses attributable to the rotator interval. Our preferred methods for treatment of each lesion are also discussed.

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Available from: Sepp Braun, Aug 21, 2014
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    • "Biceps pulley lesions can occur due to acute trauma, degenerative changes, repetitive microtrauma, congenital rotator interval defects, or injuries associated with tear in a rotator cuff (13, 24, 28, 29, 30). These lesions are thought to be responsible for medial subluxation of the LHBT, and they may result in loss of function in the shoulder and pain in the anterior shoulder (24, 25, 31). "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this review was to demonstrate magnetic resonance (MR) arthrography findings of anatomy, variants, and pathologic conditions of the superior glenohumeral ligament (SGHL). This review also demonstrates the applicability of a new MR arthrography sequence in the anterosuperior portion of the glenohumeral joint. The SGHL is a very important anatomical structure in the rotator interval that is responsible for stabilizing the long head of the biceps tendon. Therefore, a torn SGHL can result in pain and instability. Observation of the SGHL is difficult when using conventional MR imaging, because the ligament may be poorly visualized. Shoulder MR arthrography is the most accurately established imaging technique for identifying pathologies of the SGHL and associated structures. The use of three dimensional (3D) volumetric interpolated breath-hold examination (VIBE) sequences produces thinner image slices and enables a higher in-plane resolution than conventional MR arthrography sequences. Therefore, shoulder MR arthrography using 3D VIBE sequences may contribute to evaluating of the smaller intraarticular structures such as the SGHL.
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    • "It is bounded by the supraspinatus superiorly and the subscapularis inferiorly, and the coracoid process forms its medial base. Contained within this triangular space are the coracohumeral ligament, middle glenohumeral ligament, superior glenohumeral ligament, long head of the biceps tendon, and anterior joint capsule [15]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To find the most effective procedure to treat adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder, we evaluated the clinical effects of an ultrasonographic-guided anterior approach capsular distension and a fluoroscopy-guided posterolateral approach capsular distension. We expected the anterior approach to be better than the posterolateral approach because the rotator interval, a triangular anatomic area in the anterosuperior aspect of the shoulder, which is considered an important component of the pathology of adhesive capsulitis. Methods Participants were randomly assigned to two groups: 27 patients in group A were injected by an anterior approach with 2% lidocaine (5 mL), contrast dye (5 mL), triamcinolone (40 mg), and normal saline (9 mL) under fluoroscopic guidance in the operating room. Twenty-seven patients in group B were injected using a posterolateral approach with 2% lidocaine (5 mL), triamcinolone (40 mg), and normal saline (14 mL) under ultrasonographic guidance. After injection, all patients received physiotherapy four times in the first postoperative week and then two times each week for eight more weeks. Treatment effects were assessed using the shoulder pain and disability index (SPADI), visual numeric scale (VNS), passive range of motion (PROM), hand power (grip and pinch) at baseline and at one week, five and nine weeks after injection. Results SPADI, VNS, PROM, and hand power improved in one week, five and nine weeks in both groups. Statistically significant differences were not observed in SPADI, VNS, PROM, or hand power between groups. Conclusion Ultrasonography-guided capsular distension by a posterolateral approach has similar effects to fluoroscopy-guided capsular distension by an anterior approach.
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