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Superior Capsule Reconstruction for Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears: A Systematic Review

      Purpose

      To evaluate the preliminary clinical outcomes and complications of superior capsule reconstruction (SCR) for irreparable rotator cuff tears.

      Methods

      A systematic review of PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases was performed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Studies reporting clinical outcomes of irreparable rotator cuff tears managed by SCR were included. Clinical outcome analyses of pre- and postoperative range of motion, American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores, visual analog scale pain scores, and acromiohumeral intervals (AHIs) were performed and reported as range or frequency.

      Results

      Five studies (285 patients, 291 shoulders) of level III-IV evidence were included, with a weighted mean (± standard deviation) follow-up of 27.7 ± 17.3 months. Forward flexion improved from 91°-130° preoperatively to 147°-160° postoperatively, external rotation from 26°-41° to 41°-45°, and internal rotation from L4-L1 to L1. American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores increased from 36-52.2 to 77.5-92, and visual analog scale pain scores decreased from 4.0-6.3 to 0.4-1.7. Radiographically, AHIs with acellular dermal allograft ranged from 4.5 to 7.1 mm preoperatively, improving to 7.6-10.8 mm immediately postoperation before decreasing to 6.7-9.7 mm by final follow-up. Complication and graft failure rates were 17.2% and 11.7%, respectively.

      Conclusions

      Preliminary results of SCR show consistent improvement in shoulder functionality and pain reduction. However, a decrease in postoperative AHIs indicates dermal allograft elongation and persistent superior migration of the humerus, potentially contributing to later graft failure. Studies with longer follow-up will be essential to evaluate the long-term utility of SCR in the treatment of irreparable rotator cuff tears.

      Level of Evidence

      Level IV, systematic review of level III-IV studies.
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      Linked Article

      • Editorial Commentary: Superior Capsule Reconstruction: Grafts for Superior Capsular Reconstruction Must Be Thick and Stiff
        ArthroscopyVol. 35Issue 8
        • Preview
          To achieve a good functional outcome, including minimal graft tear, after superior capsule reconstruction, surgeons should carefully compare the biomechanical properties of all graft materials under consideration. In particular, graft stiffness affects postoperative stability in the glenohumeral joint, acromiohumeral distance, and graft healing. In my experience, a sufficiently stiff fascia lata graft is 6- to 8-mm thick and includes suture reinforcement and/or an augmentation patch. I believe that augmenting acellular dermal allografts in a similar way will decrease the incidence of graft elongation, persistent superior migration of the humoral head, and other complications after superior capsule reconstruction.
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