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Posterior Chondrolabral Cleft: Clinical Significance and Associations with Shoulder Instability

HSS Journal Online First Article


A high signal intensity cleft between the labrum and articular cartilage of the posterior glenoid is commonly visible on MRI and has been suggested to be anatomic variation [3, 10, 23]. The association of a posterior cleft with variations in glenoid morphology or with shoulder instability is unknown.

The purposes of this study were to determine if posterior chondrolabral clefts are associated with variations in glenoid morphology, and to determine if they are associated with shoulder instability.

Patients and Methods
Shoulder MRI was performed in 1,264 shoulders, 1,135 male (89.8%), and 129 female (10.2%). A musculoskeletal radiologist blinded to history and outcomes evaluated the MR images for linear high signal intensity at the posterior chondrolabral junction and a rounded or truncated contour of the posterior glenoid. Glenoid version and depth were measured. Patients were followed prospectively for shoulder instability for 4 years. Univariate and multivariate statistical analysis were performed.

Posterior chondrolabral cleft was present in 114/1,264. Posterior chondrolabral cleft was associated with a rounded or truncated posterior glenoid. There were 9.5° retroversion in shoulders with a posterior cleft, and 7.7° retroversion in shoulders without a cleft. Shoulders with a posterior chondrolabral cleft were more likely to develop shoulder instability.

Level of Evidence: Level IV: Cohort study.

The views and opinions expressed in this manuscript are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the US Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the US Government.

This article was published online October 2014.
View the full HSS Journal Online First article at springerlink.com.

About the HSS Journal

HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal published three times a year, February, July and October. The Journal accepts and publishes peer reviewed articles from around the world that contribute to the advancement of the knowledge of musculoskeletal diseases and disorders.


Scot E. Campbell, MD

Department of Radiology, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany

Robert M. Dewitt, MD

Keller Army Hospital, US Military Academy, West Point, NY

Kenneth L. Cameron, PhD, MPH, ATC

Keller Army Hospital, US Military Academy, West Point, NY

Adrianne K. Thompson, MD

Keller Army Hospital, US Military Academy, West Point, NY

Brett D. Owens, MD

Keller Army Hospital, US Military Academy, West Point, NY


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