Original Article| Volume 35, ISSUE 12, P3194-3202, December 2019

Ultrasound Assessment of the Superior Capsular Reconstruction With Dermal Allograft: An Evaluation of Graft Thickness and Vascularity


      To assess postoperative changes in the thickness of the dermal allograft of the superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) and to evaluate the graft for the presence of intrasubstance pulsatile vessels.


      A retrospective chart review was conducted to identify SCR patients who had ultrasound evaluations between May 2014 and February 2019. Data were collected and stratified based on time from surgery into 2 groups: 0 to 12 months and past the 12-month follow-up. The primary outcome measure was graft thickness at the articular margin–greater tuberosity interface (tuberosity measurement). Secondary measures included midsubstance graft thicknesses 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 cm medial to the tuberosity measurement; status of lateral graft fixation; presence of pulsatile vessels; and American Shoulder and Elbow Society and visual analog scale scores.


      Eighteen patients were included for analysis. The tuberosity measurement at final follow-up (mean 25 months, range 12-40 months) was (mean ± standard error [95% confidence interval (CI)]) 4.4 ± 0.2 mm (95% CI 4.0-4.8). This differed significantly from the midsubstance measurements: 0.5 cm: 3.6 ± 0.2 mm (95% CI 3.3-4.0, P = .008); 1.0 cm: 3.1 ± 0.2 mm (95% CI 2.7-3.4, P < .001); and 1.5 cm: 2.9 ± 0.2 mm (95% CI 2.6-3.2, P < .001). Ten constructs (56%) showed signs of pulsatile vessels in the first 12 months and all constructs were intact. ASES scores improved from 49.3 ± 4.0 (95% CI 41.6-57.1) preoperatively to 85.1 ± 2.9 (95% CI 79.4-90.8) (P < .001), and VAS scores decreased from 5.3 ± 0.6 (95% CI 4.2-6.5) preoperatively to 0.9 ± 0.3 (95% CI 0.3-1.5) at final follow-up (P < .001).


      The SCR dermal allograft significantly thickens at its lateral aspect, presents with evidence of vasculature in most patients in the first year of implantation, and is not resorbed by the body.

      Level of Evidence

      Level IV – therapeutic case series.
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      Linked Article

      • Editorial Commentary: Dermal Allograft: A Viable Allograft for Salvage Procedures in Treating Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears
        ArthroscopyVol. 35Issue 12
        • Preview
          Our experience with superior capsule reconstruction (SCR) has been successful in patients with isolated, irreparable, supraspinatus tears; however, we have found that bridging reconstruction may have a better role in treating patients with some cuff remnant. Our results are promising, and, although there is new evidence to show that dermal allografts can heal in the setting of rotator cuff deficiency, the basic principle of restoring anatomy should not be ignored. SCR has been accepted as a salvage procedure for irreparable cuff tears, with the precise indications being elucidated.
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