RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL
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Is arthroscopic distal clavicle resection necessary for patients with radiological acromioclavicular joint arthritis and rotator cuff tears? A prospective randomized comparative study.

BACKGROUND: The failure of subacromial decompression may be attributed to persistent symptoms of acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) arthritis, while inferior clavicular spurs of the ACJ may be associated with failed healing of repaired rotator cuffs.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the clinical effectiveness of arthroscopic distal clavicle resection (DCR) in patients with rotator cuff tears and concomitant asymptomatic radiological ACJ arthritis.

STUDY DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.

METHODS: A total of 78 patients with rotator cuff tears in addition to radiological and asymptomatic ACJ arthritis who were scheduled for arthroscopic rotator cuff repair were prospectively randomized into 2 groups. Patients underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff repair with acromioplasty. Patients in group 1 (39 patients) underwent additional arthroscopic DCR, while patients in group 2 (39 patients) did not. Clinical outcomes of the 2 groups were compared using the visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, range of motion, Constant score, and American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) score up to at least 24 months. The structural integrity of repaired rotator cuffs was assessed using ultrasonography, computed tomography arthrography, or MRI at least 6 months after surgery. To evaluate ACJ instability, weighted stress radiography of the ACJ was studied at 6 and 12 months postoperatively.

RESULTS: Patients in both groups showed significant improvement in the VAS score and all functional scores at final follow-up (mean, 29.2 months; range, 24-46 months) without significant differences between the 2 groups (P > .05). Results (mean ± SD) for preoperative group 1/group 2 and postoperative group 1/group 2 were as follows, respectively: 7.2 ± 1.8/6.1 ± 1.9 (P = .02) and 0.6 ± 1.8/0.6 ± 0.9 (P = .97) for the VAS score, 74.1 ± 5.7/73.8 ± 8.0 (P = .87) and 96.3 ± 5.7/95.7 ± 4.6 (P = .77) for the Constant score, and 47.0 ± 10.3/50.8 ± 14.1 (P = .22) and 91.5 ± 15.5/94.5 ± 11.8 (P = .55) for the ASES score. Failed cuff healing occurred in 9 patients (23%) in group 1 and 10 patients (26%) in group 2, with no significant difference (P = .95). In group 1, there were 2 patients (5.0%) with ACJ subluxation on weighted stress radiography at 6 months postoperatively. These patients complained of gross protrusion and ACJ tenderness.

CONCLUSION: Preventive arthroscopic DCR in patients with rotator cuff tears and concomitant asymptomatic radiological ACJ arthritis did not result in better clinical or structural outcomes, and it did lead to symptomatic ACJ instability in some patients. Preventive arthroscopic DCR is not recommended in patients with radiological but asymptomatic ACJ arthritis. Further long-term follow-up is needed to confirm the development of symptoms in ACJ arthritis.

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