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Partial Tears

In a cuff with smooth coverings of synovial and bursal tissue, the severity of a partial tear can be classified as follows:

1. Minimal superficial bursal or synovial irritation, or slight capsular fraying with a partial tear less than 1 cm (0.4 in) in size.

2. Actual fraying and failure of some rotator cuff fibers in addition to synovial, bursal, or capsular injury. The tear is usually less than 2 cm (0.8 in) in size.

3. More severe rotator cuff injury, including the fraying and fragmentation of tendon fibers often involving the whole surface of the cuff tendon. The tear is usually less than 3 cm (1.2 in) in size.

4. Very severe partial rotator cuff tear that usually contains, in addition to fraying and fragmentation of the tissue, a tear that often encompasses more than a single tendon.

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