Tendon vascularity in overhead athletes with subacromial pain syndrome and its correlation with the resting subacromial space

Sammi Sin Mei Tsui, Hio Teng Leong, Vivian Yee Fong Leung, Tin Cheung Ying, Siu Ngor Fu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Changes in tendon vascularity have been reported in painful tendons; however, the prevalence and distribution have not been investigated in young overhead athletes. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study of 47 overhead athletes (male, 31; female, 16) aged 18 to 36 years with SAPS for >3 months. A sonographer graded the severity of the tendinopathy and area of vascularization. Ultrasound imaging was used to measure supraspinatus tendon thickness, vascularity, and resting subacromial space. A self-written program was used to semiquantify the intensity of vascularity, expressed as the vascular index. Results The majority (87.2%) of the participants had signs of tendinopathy in the supraspinatus tendon, and 40 (85.1%) of the tendinopathic tendons had vascularity. The majority (66.0%) of the vascularized subjects presented with minimal increase in vascularity, and 19.1% had moderate to severe vascularization. Most (79.2%) of the vascularization was observed in the pericortical region. The vascular index was negatively correlated with the resting subacromial space in male athletes with a reduced subacromial space (ρ = −0.63; P = .038). Conclusion Of overhead athletes with SAPS, 87.2% had supraspinatus tendinopathy with minimal to moderate vascularization, with the majority of vascularization occurring in the pericortical region. In male athletes with a reduced subacromial space, greater vascularity in the supraspinatus tendon was associated with a smaller resting subacromial space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-780
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • overhead athletes
  • pathology of supraspinatus tendon
  • subacromial pain syndrome
  • subacromial space
  • supraspinatus tendon thickness
  • Vascularity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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