Obesity and sex influence fatty infiltration of the rotator cuff: the Rotator Cuff Outcomes Workgroup (ROW) and Multicenter Orthopaedic Outcomes Network (MOON) cohorts

Ayush Giri, Thomas H. Freeman, Peter Kim, John E. Kuhn, Gustavo A. Garriga, Michael Khazzam, Laurence D. Higgins, Elizabeth Matzkin, Keith M. Baumgarten, Julie Y. Bishop, Robert H. Brophy, James L. Carey, Warren R. Dunn, Grant L. Jones, C. Benjamin Ma, Robert G. Marx, Eric C. McCarty, Sourav K. Poddar, Matthew V. Smith, Edwin E. SpencerArmando F. Vidal, Brian R. Wolf, Rick W. Wright, Nitin B. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Fatty infiltration (FI) is one of the most important prognostic factors for outcomes after rotator cuff surgery. Established risk factors include advancing age, larger tear size, and increased tear chronicity. A growing body of evidence suggests that sex and obesity are associated with FI; however, data are limited. Methods: We recruited 2 well-characterized multicenter cohorts of patients with rotator cuff tears (Multicenter Orthopaedic Outcomes Network [MOON] cohort [n = 80] and Rotator Cuff Outcomes Workgroup [ROW] cohort [n = 158]). We used multivariable logistic regression to evaluate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and the presence of FI while adjusting for the participant's age at magnetic resonance imaging, sex, and duration of shoulder symptoms, as well as the cross-sectional area of the tear. We analyzed the 2 cohorts separately and performed a meta-analysis to combine estimates. Results: A total of 27 patients (33.8%) in the Multicenter Orthopaedic Outcomes Network (MOON) cohort and 57 patients (36.1%) in the Rotator Cuff Outcomes Workgroup (ROW) cohort had FI. When BMI < 25 kg/m2 was used as the reference category, being overweight was associated with a 2.37-fold (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.77-7.29) increased odds of FI and being obese was associated with a 3.28-fold (95% CI, 1.16-9.25) increased odds of FI. Women were 4.9 times (95% CI, 2.06-11.69) as likely to have FI as men. Conclusions: Among patients with rotator cuff tears, obese patients had a substantially higher likelihood of FI. Further research is needed to assess whether modifying BMI can alter FI in patients with rotator cuff tears. This may have significant clinical implications for presurgical surgical management of rotator cuff tears. Sex was also significantly associated with FI, with women having higher odds of FI than men. Higher odds of FI in female patients may also explain previously reported early suboptimal outcomes of rotator cuff surgery and higher pain levels in female patients as compared with male patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-735
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Level II
  • Prognosis Study
  • Retrospective Multivariable Design
  • Rotator cuff
  • body mass index
  • cross-sectional study
  • fatty infiltration
  • obesity
  • sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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