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Arthroscopic repair of large and massive rotator cuff tears using the side-to-side suture technique. Mid-term clinical and anatomic evaluation

T Rousseau, X Roussignol, S Bertiaux, F Duparc, F Dujardin, O Courage
Orthopaedics & Traumatology, Surgery & Research: OTSR 2012, 98 (4 Suppl): S1-8
22595255

UNLABELLED: PREAMBLE: Arthroscopic repair is our treatment of choice for massive rotator cuff tears. In order to reduce tension, we perform a side-to-side suture technique. The purpose of our work was to study the outcome of such technique by evaluating functional score and rotator cuff integrity using ultrasound at 2-year follow-up.

HYPOTHESIS: The "side-to-side" arthroscopic repair of large and massive rotator cuff tears provides a long-term continuity of rotator cuff mechanism, enhances function and relieves pain with low morbidity.

TYPE OF STUDY: Retrospective monocenter study.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: We included a continuous series of 50 patients of mean age 66.6 years (46-80), operated on between January 2007 and March 2008 for full-thickness retracted tears of the supraspinatus extending or not to the infraspinatus tendon. Management consisted of arthroscopic subacromial bursectomy, acromioplasty and side-to-side repair of the rotator cuff tendons with secure anchor fixation to the tuberosity. The relative Constant score was used for clinical evaluation preoperatively and at a minimum of 24 months after surgery. The continuity of rotator cuff mechanism was evaluated using ultrasound.

RESULTS: The mean relative Constant score improved significantly (p<0.05) from 40% (18-67) preoperatively to 91.7% (40-107) postoperatively. Fifty-six percent of the rotator cuffs from this series demonstrated continuity with a postoperative relative Constant score of 98.4% (74-121) and an increase in the shoulder strength score of 3.6 kg (1-6). Forty-four percent of the rotator cuffs had recurrent tear with an overall relative Constant score of 83.6% (4-126) and we did not observe any improvement in the strength score in this sub-group. Eighty-eight percent of the patients were satisfied or very satisfied with their outcome.

DISCUSSION: At a minimum 24-month follow-up, the side-to-side suturing technique reported excellent functional results with a very high satisfaction rate. For these large and massive rotator cuff tears sometimes considered as irreparable, ultrasound confirmed the continuity of the repair in 56% of the cases. Unhealed patients were not disadvantaged since they experienced pain relief and functional improvement. However, in this sub-group of patients, recovery of shoulder strength was poor.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV.

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