Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I'm just reading over the operative report for my rotator cuff surgery from two months ago. I pretty much understand everything except the term "footprint." The report says, "The supraspinatus tendon and muscle were lifted up to measure the supraspinatus footprint." What does this mean?


The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint. One of those tendons is the supraspinatus. It sounds like that's the one you had repaired.

The rotator cuff isn't a two-dimensional structure. It has depth, height, and width. The place where the supraspinatus tendon inserts into the bone is the footprint. It's usually a rectangular shape.

The surgeon lifts up the torn tendon to see where it was attached. The size of the footprint where it attached to the bone is measured carefully. Then the surgeon decides what type of suture will work best for the size and shape of the tear. When a tear occurs, it's usually not a simple straight line. There aren't two ends that can be picked up and sewn back together. The tear often forms a triangular-shaped hole.

The surgeon tries to match the original "footprint" as much as possible when making the rotator cuff repair. This may require a single or double row of stitches. The goal is to restore as much of the surface area as possible.

Augustus D. Mazzocca, MD, et al. Arthroscopic Single-Row Versus Double-Row Suture Anchor Rotator Cuff Repair. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. December 2005. Vol. 33. No. 12. Pp. 1861-1868.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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