Cost-Effectiveness of Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty Versus Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair for Symptomatic Large and Massive Rotator Cuff Tears

Arthroscopy. 2016 Sep;32(9):1771-80. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2016.01.063. Epub 2016 Apr 28.


Purpose: To compare the cost-effectiveness within the United States health care system of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair versus reverse total shoulder arthroplasty in patients with symptomatic large and massive rotator cuff tears without cuff-tear arthropathy.

Methods: An expected-value decision analysis was constructed comparing the costs and outcomes of patients undergoing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and reverse total shoulder arthroplasty for large and massive rotator cuff tears (and excluding cases of cuff-tear arthropathy). Comprehensive literature search provided input data to extrapolate costs and health utility states for these outcomes. The primary outcome assessed was that of incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of reverse total shoulder arthroplasty versus rotator cuff repair.

Results: For the base case, both arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and reverse total shoulder were superior to nonoperative care, with an ICER of $15,500/quality-adjusted life year (QALY) and $37,400/QALY, respectively. Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair was dominant over primary reverse total shoulder arthroplasty, with lower costs and slightly improved clinical outcomes. Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair was the preferred strategy as long as the lifetime progression rate from retear to end-stage cuff-tear arthropathy was less than 89%. However, when the model was modified to account for worse outcomes when reverse shoulder arthroplasty was performed after a failed attempted rotator cuff repair, primary reverse total shoulder had superior outcomes with an ICER of $90,000/QALY.

Conclusions: Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair-despite high rates of tendon retearing-for patients with large and massive rotator cuff tears may be a more cost-effective initial treatment strategy when compared with primary reverse total shoulder arthroplasty and when assuming no detrimental impact of previous surgery on outcomes after arthroplasty. Clinical judgment should still be prioritized when formulating treatment plans for these patients. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level II, economic decision analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Shoulder / economics*
  • Arthroscopy / economics*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries / economics
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries / surgery*
  • United States