How common is fatty infiltration of the teres minor in patients with shoulder pain? A review of 7,367 consecutive MRI scans

William R. Aibinder, Derrick A. Doolittle, Doris E. Wenger, Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo
2021 Journal of Experimental Orthopaedics  
Purpose The teres minor is particularly important for activities that require external rotation in abduction in the settings of both rotator cuff tears and reverse shoulder arthroplasty. This study sought to assess the incidence of teres minor fatty infiltration in a large cohort of consecutive patients evaluated with shoulder MRI for shoulder pain and to identify all associated pathologies in an effort to determine the various potential etiologies of teres minor involvement. Methods A
more » ... tive review of 7,376 non-contrast shoulder MRI studies performed between 2010 and 2015 were specifically evaluated for teres minor fatty infiltration. Studies were reviewed by two fellowship trained musculoskeletal radiologists. Muscle atrophy was graded on a 3-point scale according to Fuchs and Gerber. The remaining rotator cuff tendons and muscles, biceps tendon, labrum, and joint surfaces were assessed on MRI as well. Results In this series, 209 (2.8%) shoulders were noted to have fatty infiltration of the teres minor. The rate of isolated fatty infiltration of the teres minor was 0.4%. Concomitant deltoid muscle atrophy was common, and occurred in 68% of the shoulders with fatty infiltration of the teres minor. Tearing of the teres minor tendon was extremely rare. Conclusion Fatty infiltration of the teres minor can occur in isolation, be associated with deltoid muscle atrophy only, or occur in the setting of rotator cuff full tears. Thus, fatty infiltration of the teres minor may be related to a neurologic process or disuse. Further long term longitudinal studies are necessary to be elucidate the etiologies. Level of Evidence Level IV.
doi:10.1186/s40634-021-00325-2 pmid:33515098 fatcat:s7rxnbyf2vcqnetpeuz2d7niey