The Role of Superior Capsule Reconstruction in the Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tear - A Systematic Review

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Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research


Background: Irreparable rotator cuff tears in active patients provide a significant challenge and a consensus on the gold standard treatment is currently lacking. Superior capsule reconstruction (SCR) has recently been advocated and functions by providing a passive biological constraint to superior humeral head migration. The aim of this study is to systematically review the literature to evaluate the role of SCR in terms of functional outcome scores and failure rates.

Patients and methods: A review of the online databases Medline and EMBASE was conducted in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines on the 28th January 2019. Clinical studies reporting SCR using any type of graft or surgical technique were included if reporting either functional outcome scores or rate of secondary surgery. The studies were appraised using the Methodological index for non-randomised studies tool.

Results: The search strategy identified nine studies eligible for inclusion; five reported on fascia lata autografts and four studies reported on dermal allografts. All nine studies reported significant improvement in functional scores after SCR. Rates of secondary surgery were only provided in the dermal allograft studies at short-term follow-up (mean 10.9 to 32.4months) and ranged from 0 to 18.6%. Radiological assessment revealed graft failure in 5.5 to 55% of dermal allografts and 4.2 to 36.1% of fascia lata autografts.

Conclusion: This review demonstrates that SCR is a useful treatment modality for patients with irreparable rotator cuff tears. SCR was associated with significantly improved functional outcome scores in all studies. All studies reported a preserved or increased mean AHD. The radiological graft failure rate ranged from 4.2 to 55% and the short duration of follow-up in most studies means that this remains an important concern that requires longer-term evaluation.

Level of evidence: IV, systematic review.



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Irreparable rotator cuff repair, Massive rotator cuff repair, Shoulder, Superior capsule reconstruction