Retear patterns after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair: single-row versus suture bridge technique

Nam Su Cho, Jin Woong Yi, Bong Gun Lee, Yong Girl Rhee
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2010, 38 (4): 664-71

BACKGROUND: A subset of patients is often seen with an unusual pattern of tendon failure after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair using a suture bridge technique.

PURPOSE: To evaluate retear patterns in cases with structural failure after arthroscopic primary repairs of rotator cuff tears.

STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

METHODS: Forty-six cases revealing retear on magnetic resonance imaging performed at least 6 months after arthroscopic repair for the treatment of full-thickness rotator cuff tear were evaluated. A single-row technique had been performed in 19 cases and a suture bridge in 27 cases. According to retear patterns on postoperative magnetic resonance imaging, cases were divided into type 1 (cuff tissue repaired at the insertion site of rotator cuff was not observed remaining on the greater tuberosity) and type 2 (remnant cuff tissue remained at the insertion site in spite of retear).

RESULTS: In the single-row group, 14 cases (73.7%) had type 1 and 5 cases (26.3%) type 2 retear. In the suture bridge group, 7 cases (25.9%) had type 1 and 20 cases (74.1%) type 2. There were statistically significant differences between groups (P = .049). Extent of fatty degeneration of the rotator cuff did not affect retear patterns in the single-row group (P = .160). In the suture bridge group, the percentage of type 1 retear increased with severity of fatty degeneration (P = .030). Extent of muscle atrophy did not affect retear patterns of the single-row group; in the suture bridge group, the percentage of type 1 retear increased with severity of muscle atrophy (P = .904 vs .029).

CONCLUSION: The suture bridge technique tended to better preserve the cuff tissue repaired to the insertion site of the rotator cuff than a single-row technique did; the retear in cases with a suture bridge technique was mainly in the musculotendinous junction. Direct retear at the footprint of the rotator cuff increased with severity of fatty degeneration or muscle atrophy in cases with a suture bridge technique.

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