Midterm outcomes after arthroscopic repair of partial rotator cuff tears: A retrospective study of correlation between partial tear types and surgical technique

Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2020 Mar;54(2):196-201. doi: 10.5152/j.aott.2020.02.486.


Objective: Patients who underwent arthroscopic repair for partial rotator cuff tears were evaluated retrospectively. This study purposed to assess the postoperative clinical results of arthroscopic treatment of intratendinous rotator cuff tears and to investigate the effect of the tear type on the postoperative clinical outcomes.

Methods: Overall, 60 patients [36 women and 24 men; mean age: 48.6±12.2 years (range 33-67 years)] who underwent arthroscopic repair of Ellman stage 3 partial rotator cuff tear were evaluated retrospectively. These patients were grouped into the following three groups: articular-sided tears, bursal-sided tears, and intratendinous tears, with 20 patients included in each group. Subacromial decompression, acromioplasty, and tear repair without transforming to full-thickness tear were applied to the bursal-sided tears. The same technique was performed for intratendinous ruptures, with the only technical difference was that the capsular tissue was preserved during debridement of intratendinous tears. The articular-sided tears were transformed to complete tears and repaired arthroscopically. The preoperative and postoperative ASES scores and range of motion improvements were evaluated in all patients. The mean follow-up time was 44±6.5 months (range: 36-62 months).

Results: No significant intergroup differences were observed concerning the age and the mean follow-up duration (p=0.524, p=0.665). A similar increase in ASES scores was observed for all three types of tears (bursal-sided tears: 31.09-82.65; articular-sided tears: 35.50--84.00; intratendinous tears: 34.01-83.49). Statistically, no significant intergroup difference was observed concerning ASES score improvement (p=0.585). An increase in mean forward flexion, abduction, and external rotation were observed, especially, a statistically significant increase in flexion (p=0.001) and abduction (p=0.001) in all three types of tears. No patient experienced any intraoperative or postoperative complications.

Conclusion: The results of arthroscopic treatment of intratendinous tears were similar to the other types of partial tears, and the results of arthroscopic treatment of grade 3 partial rotator cuff tears revealed satisfactory outcomes, regardless of the type of the tear.

Level of evidence: Level III, Therapeutic study.

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy* / adverse effects
  • Arthroscopy* / methods
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome