Arthroscopic management of massive rotator cuff tears: an evaluation of debridement, complete, and partial repair with and without force couple restoration
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To evaluate the effectiveness of arthroscopic debridement (DB), partial (PR), and complete repair (CR) for massive rotator cuff tears (mRCT) in terms of functional and subjective parameters, and repair integrity.
For this single-centre study, 68 consecutive shoulders with mRCT involving at least three tendons and treated with arthroscopic DB (n = 23), PR (n = 22), and CR (n = 23) were included. All patients (52–81 years) were prospectively assessed before and at a mean of 45 months after surgery using functional and subjective parameters. Preoperative tendon rupture pattern and post-operative repair integrity were assessed by MRI. A coding system describing accurately rotator cuff rupture, treatment, and integrity was established.
All treatment groups improved significantly from pre- to post-operative (P < 0.01), while preoperative parameters, except fatty degeneration, were not significantly different. However, post-operative comparisons revealed similar scores with DB (constant score, CS 65.8 ± 14.7, qDASH 24.1 ± 20.6) and PR (CS 67.5 ± 9.9, P = n.s.; qDASH 20.5 ± 14.4, P = n.s.), while CR were significantly better (CS 80.3 ± 8.9; qDASH 7.0 ± 8.7; P ≤ 0.001). Force couple restoration of PR did not significantly influence outcome. Re-tear rates with CR (29 %) were lower compared to PR (53 %). Intact CR compared to intact PR showed better CS (83.4 ± 7.3 vs. 68.5 ± 10.6, P = 0.009) and qDASH (5.4 ± 8.3 vs. 21.2 ± 9.5, P = 0.006). The vast majority of patients were satisfied with their arthroscopic procedure (DB 87 %; PR 86 %; CR 91 %).
Arthroscopic DB, PR, and CR were effective in treating mRCT involving at least three tendons. Reparability of mRCT was influenced by fatty degeneration of the muscles. However, CR showed the most favourable short-term improvements.
Level of evidence
KeywordsMassive rotator cuff tear Arthroscopy Debridement Partial repair Complete repair Force couple
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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