Ultrastructure of the subacromial bursa in painful shoulder syndromes.

Authors: Sarkar K, Uhthoff HK.

References: Virchows Arch A Pathol Anat Histopathol. 1983;400(2):107-17.

In order to determine if inflammation of the subacromial bursa or "bursitis" is as common an occurrence as believed in painful conditions of the shoulder, eight bursae were obtained during surgery from 3 cases of calcifying tendinitis, 2 of tight coracoacromial ligament, 2 of rotator cuff tear and 1 of acromioclavicular osteoarthritis. In the cases of calcifying tendinitis, tight coracoacronial ligament and rotator cuff tear the morphological changes mainly consisted of a numerical increase in cells throughout the bursal wall along with proliferation of endothelial cells in the vascular channels. All of the cells including the endothelial had densely packed, intermediate type filaments in their cytoplasm but no appreciable diminution of metabolic organelles. Lipid droplets were abundant in the extracellular connective tissue of the bursae from the cases with rotator cuff tear. In contrast to the other cases, the bursa from the case of acromioclavicular osteoarthritis showed widespread fibrin deposition in association with cell necrosis. In none of the cases did inflammatory leukocytic cells infiltrate bursal tissue. We conclude, that the subacromial bursa tends to undergo proliferative or degenerative changes in rotator cuff tendinopathies but bursal inflammation with polymorphonuclear cell infiltrate does not occur commonly.

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