COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Biomechanical evaluation of transosseous rotator cuff repair: do anchors really matter?

Michael J Salata, Seth L Sherman, Emery C Lin, Robert A Sershon, Aman Gupta, Elizabeth Shewman, Vincent M Wang, Brian J Cole, Anthony A Romeo, Nikhil N Verma
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2013, 41 (2): 283-90
23239668

BACKGROUND: Suture anchor fixation has become the preferred method for arthroscopic repairs of rotator cuff tears. Recently, newer arthroscopic repair techniques including transosseous-equivalent repairs with anchors or arthroscopic transosseous suture passage have been developed.

PURPOSE: To compare the initial biomechanical performance including ultimate load to failure and localized cyclic elongation between transosseous-equivalent repair with anchors (TOE), traditional transosseous repair with a curved bone tunnel (TO), and an arthroscopic transosseous repair technique utilizing a simple (AT) or X-box suture configuration (ATX).

STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study.

METHODS: Twenty-eight human cadaveric shoulders were dissected to create an isolated supraspinatus tear and randomized into 1 of 4 repair groups (TOE, TO, AT, ATX). Tensile testing was conducted to simulate the anatomic position of the supraspinatus with the arm in 60° of abduction and involved an initial preload, cyclic loading, and pull to failure. Localized elongation during testing was measured using optical tracking. Data were statistically assessed using analysis of variance with a Tukey post hoc test for multiple comparisons.

RESULTS: The TOE repair demonstrated a significantly higher mean ± SD failure load (558.4 ± 122.9 N) compared with the TO (325.3 ± 79.9 N), AT (291.7 ± 57.9 N), and ATX (388.5 ± 92.6 N) repairs (P < .05). There was also a significantly larger amount of first-cycle excursion in the AT group (8.19 ± 1.85 mm) compared with the TOE group (5.10 ± 0.89 mm). There was no significant difference between repair groups in stiffness during maximum load to failure or in normalized cyclic elongation. Failure modes were as follows: TOE, tendon (n = 4) and bone (n = 3); TO, suture (n = 6) and bone (n = 1); AT, tendon (n = 2) and bone (n = 3) and suture (n = 1); ATX, tendon (n = 7).

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that anchorless repair techniques using transosseous sutures result in significantly lower failure loads than a repair model utilizing anchors in a TOE construct.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Suture anchor repair appears to offer superior biomechanical properties to transosseous repairs regardless of tunnel or suture configuration.

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