There have been technologic advances in the methods for repairing torn rotator cuffs. We compared the clinical and structural outcomes of three different forms of rotator cuff repair with up to 24 months' followup. We wished to assess how surgical technique affected clinical outcomes and see how these correlated to repair integrity. Three cohorts of patients had repair of a symptomatic rotator cuff tear using (1) an open technique (n = 49); (2) arthroscopic knotted (n = 53); or (3) arthroscopic knotless (n = 57) by one surgeon. Standardized patient- and examiner-determined outcomes were obtained preoperatively and at 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months, and 2 years postoperatively. Ultrasound studies were performed with a validated protocol at 6 months and 2 years postsurgery. Clinical outcomes were similar with the exception that the arthroscopic groups had, on average, 20% better American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores than the open group at 6 months and 2 years. Retear correlated with tear size and operation time and occurred more frequently after open repair (39%) than after arthroscopic knotted (25%) and arthroscopic knotless (16%) repair. An intact cuff on ultrasound corresponded to better results for supraspinatus strength, patient outcomes, and rotator cuff functional ability.
Level of evidence: Level III, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.