The Clinical and Structural Long-Term Results of Open Repair of Massive Tears of the Rotator Cuff

Zumstein, Matthias A.; Jost, Bernhard; Hempel, Julia; Hodler, Juerg; Gerber, Christian
November 2008
Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, American Volume;Nov2008, Vol. 90-A Issue 11, p2423
Academic Journal
Background: At a mean follow-up of 3.1 years, twenty-seven consecutive repairs of massive rotator cuff tears yielded good and excellent clinical results despite a retear rate of 37%. Patients with a retear had improvement over the preoperative state, but those with a structurally intact repair had a substantially better result. The purpose of this study was to reassess the same patients to determine the long-term functional and structural results. Methods: At a mean follow-up interval of 9.9 years, twenty-three of the twenty-seven patients returned for a review and were examined clinically, radiographically, and with magnetic resonance imaging with use of a methodology identical to that used at 3.1 years. Results: Twenty-two of the twenty-three patients remained very satisfied or satisfied with the result. The mean subjective shoulder value was 82% (compared with 80% at 3.1 years). The mean relative Constant score was 85% (compared with 83% at 3.1 years). The retear rate was 57% at 9.9 years (compared with 37% at 3.1 years; p = 0.168). Patients with an intact repair had a better result than those with a failed reconstruction with respect to the mean absolute Constant score (81 compared with 64 points, respectively; p = 0.015), mean relative Constant score (95% and 77%; p = 0.002), and mean strength of abduction (5.5 and 2.6 kg; p = 0.007). The mean retear size had increased from 882 to 1164 mm² (p = 0.016). Supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscle fatty infiltration had increased (p = 0.004 and 0.008, respectively). Muscles with torn tendons preoperatively showed more fatty infiltration than muscles with intact tendons preoperatively, regardless of repair integrity. Shoulders with a retear had a significantly higher mean acromion index than those without retear (0.75 and 0.65, respectively; p = 0.004). Conclusions: Open repair of massive rotator cuff tears yielded clinically durable, excellent results with high patient satisfaction at a mean of almost ten years postoperatively. Conversely, fatty muscle infiltration of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus progressed, and the retear size increased overtime. The preoperative integrity of the tendon appeared to be protective against muscle deterioration. A wide lateral extension of the acromion was identified as a previously unknown risk factor for retearing. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.


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