Superior Capsular Reconstruction Reverses Profound Pseudoparalysis in Patients With Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears and Minimal or No Glenohumeral Arthritis

Published:October 30, 2018DOI:


      The purpose of the study was to investigate the rate and magnitude of return of active forward elevation (aFE) of the arm for patients with severe preoperative elevation dysfunction (less than 45° of aFE and termed profound pseudoparalysis) and massive, irreparable (or partially reparable) rotator cuff tears without arthritis treated with arthroscopic superior capsular reconstruction (SCR).


      The period for this retrospective study was October 2014 to October 2016. Inclusion criteria included patients treated arthroscopically for an incompletely reparable massive rotator cuff tear (2 tendons fully torn or tear dimension > 5 cm), preoperative aFE of less than 45° (profound pseudoparalysis) with full passive elevation, an intact or reparable subscapularis tendon, radiographic classification Hamada 0-3, and 12-month clinical follow-up. The primary outcome measure was aFE (degrees) at 1 year postoperative. Secondary outcomes included visual analog scale pain rating (0-10), American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score, subjective shoulder value, and active external rotation. Graft integrity and Goutallier grade of supraspinatus and infraspinatus at 1 year postoperative were evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging.


      Ten patients met the inclusion criteria. Nine of 10 patients (90%) regained active overhead use of the arm after SCR with preoperative aFE (mean ± standard error of the mean [95% confidence interval (CI)]) 27° ± 2° [95% CI, 24°-30°] improving to postoperative aFE 159° ± 15° [95% CI, 130°-187°; P < .0001]. All secondary outcome measures were also improved at 1 year postoperative (visual analog scale, 4.6 ± 0.8 to 0.5 ± 0.2; P = .001; American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, 52 ± 6 to 89 ± 3; P = .0002; subjective shoulder value, 36 ± 3 to 91 ± 1; P < .0001; active external rotation, 24° ± 7° to 43° ± 8°; P = .002), and 7 of 10 SCR grafts were fully healed by MRI. No complications or reoperations occurred.


      Profound pseudoparalysis of the shoulder (active elevation less than 45°) in massive, irreparable rotator cuff tears without arthritis was reversed in 90% of patients after arthroscopic SCR. Reverse shoulder replacement has been proposed to be the only reliable surgical option in this patient group, but SCR appears to be a valid joint-preserving option for improving function with a low rate of complications.

      Level of Evidence

      Level IV, therapeutic case series.
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