Improved Clinical and Radiologic Outcomes Seen after Superior Capsule Reconstruction using Long Head Biceps Tendon Autograft

Arthroscopy. 2021 Sep;37(9):2756-2767. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2021.04.006. Epub 2021 Apr 20.


Purpose: The objective of this study was to investigate the clinical and radiologic outcomes after superior capsule reconstruction (SCR) with biceps tendon (BT) for irreparable rotator cuff tears.

Methods: The retrospective study period was May 2015 through February 2018. The average follow-up was 32 months (24-48 months) after surgery. Study inclusion criteria included an arthroscopic SCR performed using only our technique and minimum 2-year clinical follow-up by office visit and survey. Exclusion criteria included irreparable subscapularis tear and those patients lost to follow-up. This method enabled SCR by using the extraarticular portion and the intraarticular portion and making it 2 to 3 bundles by moving back and forth in the intraarticular area. Physical examination and functional scoring procedures were performed before surgery and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after surgery. Radiography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were performed before surgery, after surgery (only radiography), and at 6 and 24 months after surgery.

Results: Fifty-three shoulders involving 45 consecutive patients underwent BT technique for irreparable massive rotator cuff tears. The visual analog scale (VAS), American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES), and constant score (CS) showed statistically significant improvement (VAS, 4.1-1.0; ASES, 60.9-82.7; and CS, 64.9-80.0; P < .0001). The shoulder active range of motion improved significantly by 23 for forward elevation (125.3-148.4; P < .0001) and by 12 for external rotation (38.0-50.9, P < .0001). The acromiohumeral distance (AHD) was significantly increased by 2.7 mm (4.4 ± 1.4 mm -> 7.1 ± 1.3 mm). No graft tear was detected in 39 patients (86.7%) during follow-up (24-48 months).

Conclusions: SCR via our technique improved clinical and radiologic outcomes. Thirty-five (77.7%) patients achieved 17-point improvement (the minimally clinically important difference) in the last follow-up of ASES score. Clinical scores and AHD had significantly increased, and good healed rate (86.7%) was observed in MRI.

Level of evidence: Level IV, retrospective case series.

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy
  • Autografts
  • Elbow
  • Humans
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries* / diagnostic imaging
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries* / surgery
  • Shoulder Joint*
  • Tendons / diagnostic imaging
  • Tendons / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome