Purpose of the study: Totally arthroscopic repair of rotator cuff tears is now common practice. The techniques used were evaluated by a retrospective multicentric analysis conducted by the French Society of Arthroscopy.
Material and methods: The series was limited to arthroscopic repair of full thickness tears of the supraspinatus or infraspinatus evaluated using the Constant score and arthro-MRI or arthroscan performed with at least one year follow-up. Data were processed with SPSS 10. The series included 576 patients who underwent surgery between January 2001 and June 2003. Mean patient age was 57.7 years; 52% were men and 60% were manual laborers. The mean preoperative Constant score was 46.4 +/- 13.4/100. The tear was limited to the supraspinatus in 69% of shoulders, with extension to the upper third of the infraspinatus in 23.5% and the entire infraspinatus in 7.5%. The supraspinatus tear was distal in 41.7% of shoulders, intermediary in 44% and retracted in 14.3%. Fatty degeneration of the supraspinatus was noted grade 0 in 60%, 1 in 27%, 2 in 11% and 3 in 2%. Arthroscopic repair was performed in all cases, with locoregional anesthesia in 60.9%. Bioresorbable implants were used in 33% and metallic implants in 62.1%. Acromioplasty was performed in 92.7% and capsulotomy in 14.9%.
Results: On average, the subjective outcome was scored 8.89/10. The Constant score improved from 46.3 +/- 13.4 to 82.7 +/- 10.3 with 62% having a strictly pain free shoulder. Muscle force improved from 5.8 +/- 3.7 to 13.6 +/- 5.4. Outcome was excellent in 94% of shoulders at 18.5 months mean follow-up. The complication rate in this series was 6.2% with 3.1% prolonged stiffness, 2.7% reflex dystrophy, 0.2% infection, and 0.2% anchor migration. The cuff was considered normal in 55.7% of shoulders with an intratendon addition image in 19%, i.e. 74.7% of non-ruptured cuffs. Minimal loss of integrity was noted in 9.5% and was marked in 15.7%, i.e. 25.2% iterative tears.ANATOMOCLINICAL CORRELATIONS: The Constant score was strongly correlated with rotator cuff integrity (p<0001). This correlation was also found for force (p<0001), motion (0.01) and activity (0.04), but not for pain. The clinical outcome was correlated with extension, retraction, intrasubstance tear, and fatty degeneration of the lesion preoperatively. Anatomic results were statistically less favorable for tears which were older, extensive, retracted or associated with fatty degeneration. Age was correlated with extent of the initial tear and also with less favorable anatomic and clinical outcome. Occupational accidents were correlated with less favorable clinical outcome.
Conclusion: Functional improvement after healing is a strong argument for repair. Arthroscopy has the advantage of combining a low complication rate with good clinical and anatomic results. Age is correlated with functional outcome and healing, but is not a contraindication.