Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery

, Volume 139, Issue 8, pp 1111–1116 | Cite as

Synovitis as a concomitant disease in shoulder pathologies

  • Katharina Stahnke
  • Lars Morawietz
  • Philipp Moroder
  • Markus ScheibelEmail author
Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine



Shoulder pathologies are often accompanied by rotator interval synovitis. This phenomenon is poorly described in the literature so far. The aim of the study was to analyze the occurrence of macroscopically visible synovial reaction in the rotator interval in patients with chronic shoulder pathologies and to perform a histopathological evaluation.

Materials and methods

In this prospective cohort study, 167 consecutive patients undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery for chronic shoulder pathology were included (♀ = 45, ♂ = 122; \(\emptyset ~\)54.5 years ± 12.8). Included patients were divided into subgroups according to the encountered chronic shoulder pathology: (1) impingement syndrome with or without bursal sided partial rotator cuff tear (RCT); (2) articular sided partial RCT; (3) full-thickness RCT; (4) RCT that involves at least two tendons; (5) shoulder instability; and (6) cartilage damage. Standardized soft tissue biopsies from the rotator interval were taken. The synovitis score of Krenn/Morawietz was used for histopathological examination.


Extraarticular pathology (group 1) showed significantly decreased synovitis scores compared to all the other groups. Increased size of rotator cuff tears (group 4), as well as cartilage damage (group 6) showed significantly higher synovitis scores than group 3 (p < 0.05). Moreover, the synovitis score was significantly increased in patients with concomitant pathologies of the long head of the biceps (p = 0.001).


This study suggests that chronic intra- and extraarticular shoulder diseases are very often accompanied by a histopathologically verifiable low-grade synovitis. Intraarticular pathologies seem to induce increased levels of synovitis. Furthermore, the increased size of rotator cuff tears is accompanied by a higher degree of synovitis.

Study design

Cohort study, level of evidence, 2b.


Synovitis Chronic shoulder disease Rotator interval Synovitis score Rotator cuff tear Synovial inflammation 



The authors would like to state that no outside funding or grants were received that assisted in the above-mentioned study. Katharina Stahnke, Lars Morawietz, Philipp Moroder and Markus Scheibel, their immediate family, and any research foundation with which they are affiliated have not received any financial payments or other benefits from any commercial entity related to the subject of this article.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No potential conflict of interest declared by the author.

Ethical approval

This study was approved by the local ethical committee (EA1/351/16).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharina Stahnke
    • 1
  • Lars Morawietz
    • 2
  • Philipp Moroder
    • 1
  • Markus Scheibel
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, Center for Musculoskeletal Surgery, Campus VirchowCharité-Universitaetsmedizin BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.PathologyMVZ Fuerstenberg-Karree BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Schulthess ClinicZurichSwitzerland

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