Level V Evidence| Volume 38, ISSUE 7, P2342-2347, July 2022

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Graft Augmentation of Repairable Rotator Cuff Tears: An Algorithmic Approach Based on Healing Rates

Published:November 09, 2021DOI:


      We provide our algorithm for tissue augmentation of rotator cuff repairs based on the current available evidence regarding rotator cuff healing. A variety of factors are associated with healing following rotator cuff repair. Increasing tear size and retraction as well as severe fatty degeneration have been associated with worsening rates of tendon healing. Given the correlation between tendon healing and postoperative outcomes, it is important to identify patients at high risk for failure and to modify their treatment accordingly to minimize the risk of early biomechanical failure and maximize the potential for structural healing. One approach that may be used to improve healing is tissue augmentation. Tissue augmentation is the use of tissue patches and scaffolds to provide rotator cuff reinforcement. Surgical management for rotator cuff tears (RCTs) continues to be a challenging task in orthopaedic surgery today. Appropriate treatment measures require an in depth understanding and consideration of the patient’s prognostic factors such as age, fatty infiltration of the rotator cuff muscles, bone mineral density, rotator cuff retraction, anteroposterior tear size, work activity, and degenerative changes of the joint. Using these factors within the Rotator Cuff Healing Index, we can determine a patient’s surgical treatment that will yield the maximum healing rate. For nonarthritic RCTs, joint-preserving strategies should be first-line treatment options. For young, active patients with a reparable RCT and minimal fatty infiltration, a complete repair can be effective. For young patients with irreparable RCTs, superior capsular reconstructions, and tendon transfers are viable options. For elderly patients with low work activity, an irreparable RCT and significant fatty infiltration, a partial repair with or without graft augmentation can be attempted if minimal to no arthritic changes are seen.

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