Radiolucent rings around bioabsorbable anchors after rotator cuff repair are not associated with clinical outcomes

Jin-Young Park, Suk-Hwan Jang, Kyung-Soo Oh, Yi Jin Li
Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 2017, 137 (11): 1539-1546

PURPOSE: Various researchers have observed small areas of osteolysis after using bioabsorbable anchors in shoulder surgeries. The purpose of this study is to determine whether radiographic perianchor radiolucent rings after rotator cuff repair are associated with the failure of repair and also assess their clinical implications. Further, the most frequent location of the radiolucent rings in the double-row suture bridge configuration was also assessed.

METHODS: One hundred and twenty-nine consecutive patients who underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff repair by suture bridge technique were retrospectively evaluated radiographically and clinically. The number and size of the rings that appeared at each follow-up were recorded. Also, the locations of each ring were recorded as anterior, middle or posterior, and medial or lateral according to the construct of the anchors used for suture bridge technique. The size of the tear, the number of anchors used and age of the patients were compared. Re-tear rates according to ultrasound examinations were also analyzed.

RESULTS: After rotator cuff repair, the mean American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) score increased from 46.7 to 88.0 and the overall re-tear rate was 8.5% (11 cases). Seventy-three patients (56.6%) showed RR (total number of 99 rings) at least once during the course of their follow-up and the rings appeared at a mean period of 18.2 months after surgery. Mean size of the rings initially was 5.6 mm and the rings increased or decreased in mean size of 0.4 mm during mean follow-up of 37 months. No correlation was seen with the number of RRs and the rate of re-tears, number of anchors, size of tears, and clinical outcome as determined by the ASES score. Radiolucent ring measurement reproducibility was confirmed by independent, repeated measurements. The rings appeared mostly at anteromedial anchors (75 rings, 75.8%) and the authors suggest that mechanical factors may play a role for the cause of radiolucent rings.

CONCLUSIONS: The number and the size of RRs around bioabsorbable anchors after rotator cuff repair do not appear to adversely affect the healing and clinical outcome of ARCR. Most radiolucent rings appeared at anteromedial anchors, indicating that mechanical factors may play a role for the radiolucencies.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Case series, level IV.

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