A comparison of early versus delayed repair of traumatic rotator cuff tears

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2011 Oct;19(10):1766-70. doi: 10.1007/s00167-011-1396-1. Epub 2011 Jan 22.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results between early and delayed operative treatment in patients with traumatic rotator cuff tears (RCT).

Methods: Thirty-five patients with a traumatic RCT who have been treated surgically during a 4-year period were included in the study. The results of early versus delayed repair of traumatic rotator RCT were assessed using the Constant and UCLA scores. In addition, all patients underwent a postoperative MRI to evaluate repair integrity. Early repair (within 3 weeks) was performed in 15 patients (group I) and delayed repair (after 3 weeks) in the rest 20 patients (group II). The time interval between injury and operation was 12 and 131 days on average for group I and II, respectively.

Results: Follow-up time was 34 and 38 months for group I and II, respectively. Postoperatively, the UCLA score was 31 and 26 (P < 0.05) for group I and II, respectively. The Constant score was 82 and 70 (P < 0.05) for group I and II, respectively. Range of motion was significantly better in group I. According to MRI, 5 patients (33%) in the group I and 7 patients (35%) in the group II had a retear.

Conclusions: Early repair of a traumatic RCT provides better results in terms of shoulder function in comparison with a delayed repair. A delayed diagnosis of a traumatic RCT leads to difficulties in surgery and less good results.

Level of evidence: Level III, therapeutic, retrospective, comparative study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery*
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Shoulder Joint / physiology
  • Tendon Injuries / diagnosis
  • Tendon Injuries / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome