Low healing rates and moderate functional outcome after arthroscopic superior capsular reconstruction using a porcine xenograft

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2022 Jul;30(7):2528-2534. doi: 10.1007/s00167-022-06916-5. Epub 2022 Feb 23.


Purpose: In the absence of arthropathy, symptomatic massive irreparable rotator cuff tears contribute to a therapeutic challenge for orthopedic surgeons. The concept of superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) was introduced as an option for these challenging cases. The purposes of this study were to evaluate the clinical outcome scores when using a decellularized porcine xenograft and to evaluate the graft healing and incorporation.

Methods: A multicentric retrospective study of consecutive SCR's performed between 2016 and 2019 by four surgeons in four centers. Preoperative and postoperative Constant score, Subjective shoulder value (SSV) and Visual analog scale for pain (VAS) were recorded. Graft healing was evaluated by ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Results: A total of 28 shoulders were retrospectively analyzed with an average follow-up of 24 ± 9 months. One infection and four revisions (14%) to reversed shoulder arthroplasty (RSA) were reported at the final follow-up. The absolute Constant score showed a moderate, but significant improvement from 40 ± 12 to 57 ± 20 (P = 0.001). A significant improvement in pain scores was observed (P < 0.001). For patients undergoing SCR as a primary surgery, an average postoperative Constant score of 62 ± 16 was observed. This was in contrast to 43 ± 22 for patients who underwent SCR after failed rotator cuff repair. Although a strong trend in absolute differences was observed in regard to the Constant score, they did not reach statistical significance. For all other recorded outcome scores, a significant difference was reported between these groups. Graft healing was observed in (7/22) 30% of the patients. In the case of graft incorporation, an absolute constant score of 70 ± 9 was observed compared to 48 ± 21 in the graft failure group (P = 0.003). All cases with graft healing were considered to have a successful clinical outcome. This compared to only (7/15) 47% in the case of graft failure.

Conclusions: In these series, SCR with a dermal xenograft successfully alleviated pain, but provided only a moderate improvement in functional outcome. In the case of graft healing, satisfactory clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction were observed. The present study indicates the benefit of performing SCR as a primary surgery, yet warns against using SCR as a salvage option for failed rotator cuff repair. In this group, the use of dermal xenografts is limited by the low healing rates and high complication rate.

Level of evidence: IV. Retrospective case series, treatment study.

Keywords: Complications; Failed rotator cuff repair; Graft healing; Results; Reverse shoulder arthroplasty; SCR; Shoulder.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthroscopy / methods
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • Pain
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries* / surgery
  • Shoulder Joint* / surgery
  • Swine
  • Treatment Outcome