Treatment of massive and recurrent rotator cuff tears augmented with a poly-l-lactide graft, a preliminary study

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2015 Jun;24(6):915-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2014.09.044. Epub 2014 Dec 4.


Background: The incidence of failed rotator cuff repairs remains high, especially in the setting of massive tears or revision repairs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate patient outcomes and repair integrity after augmentation with the repair patch, a poly-l-lactide synthetic polymer.

Methods: Sixteen consecutive patients with massive or recurrent rotator cuff tears underwent open repair with synthetic poly-l-lactide patch augmentation. Two patients required the patch to bridge defects, and 1 patient retore after a motor vehicle accident and had revision surgery at another institution. The 13 remaining patients were retrospectively evaluated from 1.2 to 1.7 years (average, 1.5 years) after surgery by PENN, American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, and Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation scores. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to examine the integrity of the repair at a minimum of 1 year of follow-up.

Results: The mean age was 57.3 years (42-68 years). Five patients (38%) had an intact rotator cuff at the time of follow-up. The remaining patients (62%) had full-thickness tears. PENN scores significantly improved from a preoperative score of 50.9 to 77.6 (P < .005). American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores significantly improved from 32.8 to 74.2 (P = .0001). Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation scores at latest follow-up were 76.2.

Conclusion: Poly-l-lactide repair patch augmentation of massive and recurrent large to massive rotator cuff tears demonstrates significant improvement in shoulder outcome measures for this difficult population, despite a retear rate of 62%. Further investigation with larger, prospective long-term studies is needed to determine whether this technique provides a true benefit compared with traditional, nonaugmented repair.

Keywords: Rotator cuff tear; augmentation; magnetic resonance imaging; massive rotator cuff repair; recurrent rotator cuff repair; repair integrity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyesters / therapeutic use*
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery*
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Polyesters
  • poly(lactide)