Arthroscopic Superior Capsular Reconstruction With Acellular Dermal Allograft for the Treatment of Massive Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears: Short-Term Clinical Outcomes and the Radiographic Parameter of Superior Capsular Distance

Arthroscopy. 2018 Jun;34(6):1764-1773. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2018.01.009. Epub 2018 Feb 15.


Purpose: This outcome analysis presents 88 consecutive shoulders presenting with irreparable rotator cuff tears that we treated with arthroscopic superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) using an acellular dermal allograft. We also present the concept of superior capsular distance to quantitatively measure the decreased distance present upon restoration of superior capsular integrity.

Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of patients treated with arthroscopic SCR with a minimum 12-month follow-up. Outcome analysis was performed via an internet-based outcome-tracking system to evaluate visual analog scale (VAS) and American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) scores. Radiographic analysis of anteroposterior radiographs analyzed acromiohumeral interval and superior capsular distance. Digital dynamometric strength and functional range of motion assessments were also obtained. The main inclusion criteria for patients in this analysis was all patients who underwent superior capsular reconstruction during the time period of this report.

Results: Eighty-six patients with an average age of 59.4 years presented with massive rotator cuff tears (Cofield >5 cm). Outcome data revealed improvement in VAS (4.0-1.5), and ASES (52-82) scores at 1 year (P = .005). Radiographic analysis showed increase in acromiohumeral interval (mean 7.1 mm preoperatively to mean 9.7 mm at 1 year) (P = .049) and superior capsular distance (mean 52.9 mm preoperatively to mean 46.2 mm at 1 year) (P = .011). Strength improved significantly (forward flexion/abduction/external rotation of 4.8/4.1/7.7 lb preoperatively to 9.8/9.2/12.3 lb at 1 year) as well as range of motion (forward flexion/abduction of 120°/103° preoperatively to 160°/159° at 1 year) (P = .044/P = .007/P = .02). At follow-up, 90% of patients were satisfied.

Conclusions: This analysis reveals that arthroscopic SCR with acellular dermal allograft has been successful in decreasing pain and improving function in this patient subset. Radiographic analysis has also shown a consistent and lasting decrease in superior capsular distance and increase in acromiohumeral interval, indicating maintenance of superior capsular stability.

Level of evidence: Level IV, retrospective case series.

MeSH terms

  • Acellular Dermis*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthralgia / surgery
  • Arthroscopy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotation
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries / surgery*
  • Shoulder / physiology
  • Shoulder / surgery
  • Skin Transplantation*
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Treatment Outcome