Objective: A high prevalence of neovascularity in lower extremity tendinopathies has been reported. Neovascularity in those with rotator cuff tendinopathy exclusively has not been examined. The objective was to determine the prevalence of neovascularization in patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy compared with asymptomatic controls.
Design: Single-blind cross-sectional study.
Setting: Research laboratory.
Participants: Participants (n = 40; age = 44.9 years, 23-62 years; 20 females) with rotator cuff tendinopathy (n = 20) but without full-thickness rotator cuff tears, and asymptomatic controls that were age, gender, and hand dominance matched (n = 20) to the patients.
Interventions: The participants laying in supine had their shoulder positioned in internal rotation and extension. Ultrasound images were collected of the supraspinatus tendon and subacromial bursae in the transverse and longitudinal planes using a linear transducer in color Doppler mode.
Main Outcome Measures: Images were assessed for neovascularization by 2 trained raters who were blinded to group (rotator cuff tendinopathy or asymptomatic group).
Results: No statistically significant difference in neovascularization was identified between participants with and without rotator cuff tendinopathy (χ2 = 0.13, df = 1, P = 0.72). Neovascularization was identified in 6 of 20 patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy (30%) and 5 of 20 asymptomatic control participants (25%).
Conclusions: The authors found no differences in neovascularization rate in patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy (30%) and asymptomatic controls (25%). The study indicates that neovascularization is not related to presence of symptomatic tendinopathy in those with rotator cuff tendinopathy. Neovascularization may not be a relevant sonographic finding to aid the clinical assessment of those with rotator cuff tendinopathy.