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, 43 (8), 1965-75

Arthroscopic Partial Repair of Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears: Preoperative Factors Associated With Outcome Deterioration Over 2 Years


Arthroscopic Partial Repair of Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears: Preoperative Factors Associated With Outcome Deterioration Over 2 Years

Min Soo Shon et al. Am J Sports Med.


Background: Arthroscopic partial repair is a treatment option in irreparable large-to-massive rotator cuff tears without arthritic changes. However, there are indications that arthroscopic partial repair does not yield satisfactory outcomes.

Purpose: To report the clinical and radiographic results of arthroscopic partial repairs in patients with irreparable large-to-massive cuff tears. In addition, an analysis was performed regarding preoperative factors that may influence patient outcomes and patient-rated satisfaction over time.

Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: From 2005 to 2011, a total of 31 patients who underwent arthroscopic partial repair for irreparable large-to-massive cuff tears were retrospectively evaluated. Partial repair was defined as posterior cuff tissue repair with or without subscapularis tendon repair to restore the transverse force couple of the cuff. Pain visual analog scale (PVAS), questionnaire results (American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons [ASES] and Simple Shoulder Test [SST]), and radiographic changes (acromiohumeral distance and degenerative change) were assessed preoperatively, at first follow-up (roughly 1 year postoperatively), and at final follow-up (>2 years postoperatively). Patients rated their satisfaction level at each postoperative follow-up as well. Preoperative factors that might influence outcomes, such as patient demographics, tear size, and fatty infiltration, were investigated.

Results: The preoperative, first follow-up, and final follow-up results for mean PVAS (5.13, 2.13, and 3.16, respectively) and questionnaires (ASES: 41.97, 76.37, and 73.78; SST: 3.61, 6.33, and 6.07, respectively) improved significantly (all P < .05). Radiographic evaluation showed no difference compared with preoperative status. Nevertheless, patient-rated satisfaction at final evaluation was inferior: 16 good responses ("very satisfied" and "satisfied") and 15 poor responses ("rather the same" and "dissatisfied"). Despite initial improvements in both groups (P < .05), patients with poor satisfaction demonstrated statistically significant deterioration in mean PVAS (from 2.07 to 4.67), questionnaire scores (ASES: from 74.56 to 59.80; SST: from 5.11 to 3.81), and acromiohumeral distance (from 7.19 to 5.06 mm) between the first and final follow-up (all P < .05). Patients with good satisfaction showed no significant difference or they improved (P > .05) from the first to the final follow-up. Among preoperative factors, fatty infiltration of the teres minor was identified as the only statistically significant factor affecting patient-rated satisfaction (P = .007).

Conclusion: This study showed that arthroscopic partial repair may produce initial improvement in selected outcomes at 2-year follow-up. However, about half of the patients in the study were not satisfied with their outcomes, which had deteriorated over time. Preoperative fatty infiltration of the teres minor was the only factor that correlated with worse final outcomes and poor satisfaction after arthroscopic partial repair.

Keywords: fatty infiltration; irreparable rotator cuff tear; partial repair; preoperative factor; rotator cuff; teres minor.

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