Anatomical Variations and Degenerative Features of the Coracoacromial Ligament (CAL) in Shoulders with Rotator Cuff Tears

  • Abdulrahman Alraddadi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The purpose of this study is to evaluate anatomical variations of the coracoacromial ligament (CAL) in relation to the etiology of subacromial impingement syndrome and rotator cuff tears. A knowledge and understanding of these variations will help to determine how such variations may influence the surrounding tissues and how the biomechanics of the shoulder works, as well as improving accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment of shoulder impingement syndrome.

The methodological approach involved the dissection of 220 cadaveric shoulders in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) with a mean age of 82 years (range 53 to 102 years). The CAL was classified according to its morphology and composed band number. The rotator cuff tendons were inspected for tears that were categorized into partial bursal and complete tears. Furthermore, the study inspected the CAL’s parameters and attachment sites: degenerative changes include acromial and coracoid spurs and attrition lesions at the undersurface of the acromion.

Results: the multiple banded ligament was the most commonly observed type and was seen in 101 (46%) specimens. The attachment sites of the ligament varied as the size or number of bands of the ligament increased. An association was found between rotator cuff tears and shoulders which had three or more CAL bands (52%). In addition, shoulders with rotator cuff tears had wider attachments, thicker ligaments and larger subacromial insertions. Shoulders with rotator cuff tears also had a significant incidence and size of acromial spurs. The size of the spurs was correlated with the size of the CAL and attrition lesions on the undersurface of the acromion, and changes in morphology of the acromion. Attrition lesions at the subacromial insertion of the CAL were associated with tears in the rotator cuff tendons, and worsened as the size of the subacromial insertion increased.

In conclusion, anatomical variations of the CAL showed a relationship with rotator cuff tears.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsKing Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences
SupervisorRoger Soames (Supervisor) & Clare Lamb (Supervisor)


  • Coracoacromial ligament
  • Rotator cuff tears

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