Surgery Within 6 Months of an Acute Rotator Cuff Tear Significantly Improves Outcome

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2015 Dec;24(12):1876-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2015.05.043. Epub 2015 Jul 7.


Background: To determine the effect of time to repair on the outcome after an acute rotator cuff tear.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on patients presenting with acute rotator cuff tear to our shoulder clinic. Patient-reported outcomes were assessed using the Oxford Shoulder Score, and symptomatic retears were diagnosed by clinical assessment plus imaging.

Results: Twenty patients underwent rotator cuff repair within 6 months of injury via initial referral through the Acute Shoulder Injury Clinic (early repair group; mean age, 60 years; age range, 39-77 years). Twenty age- and sex-matched patients were identified who had undergone delayed repair (6-18 months after injury; mean age, 60 years; age range, 40-78 years). The mean follow-up period was 10 months for the early repair group versus 11 months for the delayed repair group. Both groups had clinically significant improvements in their Oxford scores, although the early repair group had an improvement that was nearly double that of the delayed repair group (20.3 for early vs 10.4 for delayed, P = .0014). Postoperative Oxford scores were significantly higher in the early repair group (mean of 43.8 for early vs 35.8 for delayed, P = .0057). There were 2 symptomatic retears in the early repair group versus 5 in the delayed repair group.

Conclusion: Our results show improved outcomes with early repair (within 6 months) of acute rotator cuff tears and support the provision of an acute shoulder injury referral clinic.

Keywords: Rotator cuff tear; acute repair; arthroscopic; delayed repair.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Outcome Assessment*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery*
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Time-to-Treatment*