Background: Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair generally provides satisfactory results including decreased shoulder pain and improved shoulder motion. Unfortunately, imaging studies demonstrate that the retear rate associated with the available arthroscopic techniques may be high. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair with and without the use of platelet-leukocyte membrane in patients with a large posterosuperior rotator cuff tear.
Methods: Eighty consecutive patients with a large full-thickness posterosuperior rotator cuff tear were enrolled. All tears were repaired using an arthroscopic single-row technique. Patients were randomized to treatment either with or without a platelet-leukocyte membrane inserted between the rotator cuff tendon and its footprint. In patients treated with this membrane, one membrane was utilized for each suture anchor. The primary outcomes were the difference between the preoperative and postoperative Constant scores and the repair integrity assessed by MRI according to the Sugaya classification. The secondary outcome was the difference between the preoperative and postoperative Simple Shoulder Test (SST) scores.
Results: The only significant differences between the two groups involved the patient age and the preoperative and postoperative Constant scores; the differences in the Constant score were due to differences in the shoulder pain subscore. At a mean of thirteen months of follow-up, rotator cuff retears were observed only in the group of patients in whom the membrane had not been used, and a thin but intact tendon was observed more frequently in this group as well. The use of the membrane was associated with significantly better repair integrity (p = 0.04).
Conclusions: The use of the platelet-leukocyte membrane in the treatment of rotator cuff tears improved repair integrity compared with repair without membrane. However, the improvement in repair integrity was not associated with greater improvement in the functional outcome. In fact, the Constant scores of the two groups would have been similar if the shoulder pain component (which had differed preoperatively) had been excluded.