Short-Term Clinical Outcomes and Comparison of Ultrasound Versus Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Superior Capsular Reconstruction

Arthrosc Sports Med Rehabil. 2020 Apr 16;2(3):e229-e235. doi: 10.1016/j.asmr.2020.02.006. eCollection 2020 Jun.


Purpose: To evaluate the short-term outcomes of 10 patients with irreparable massive rotator cuff tears treated with arthroscopic superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) using dermal allograft.

Methods: Between 2016 and 2018, patients with symptomatic irreparable rotator cuff tears were prospectively enrolled for treatment with arthroscopic SCR. Investigational review board approval was achieved. All patients were treated by a single fellowship-trained shoulder surgeon. Minimum follow-up was 1 year. Range of motion and functional outcome according to visual analog scale pain, American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, and Simple Shoulder Test scores were assessed preoperatively and at routine follow-up intervals. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound were obtained at a minimum of 1 year to assess graft integrity and to correlate clinical outcomes.

Results: Ten patients with a mean age of 58.6 years had a minimum follow-up of 1 year. In all patients, preoperatively to postoperatively, mean forward flexion improved from 141° to 173° (P = .018), mean visual analog scale pain score decreased from 6.5 to 1 (P = .004), and mean American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score improved from 43 to 87 (P = .005). At 1 year, ultrasound evaluation identified graft failure in 1 patient (10%), whereas MRI diagnosed graft failure in 7 patients (70%). Of the 7 failures diagnosed by MRI, 4 failed at the level of the glenoid, 2 failed mid-graft, and 1 failed at the humerus.

Conclusions: Although clinical outcomes are statistically improved following arthroscopic SCR using a dermal allograft, the early high failure rates of the graft raise concerns about the long-term outcomes of the procedure. Furthermore, the use of ultrasound alone to validate an intact graft should be used with caution, as failures can occur at the glenoid and can be missed without MRI correlation.

Level of evidence: Level IV, Therapeutic case series.