This study aimed to evaluate the clinical outcomes of irreparable rotator cuff tears (RCT) treated with an arthroscopic partial repair, as well as the preoperative factors that may be related to greater improvement of clinical outcomes at short-term follow-up.
We retrospectively reviewed patients with irreparable RCT who underwent arthroscopic partial rotator cuff repair between January 2011 and April 2014. Minimal follow-up of 24 months was required. Partial repair was defined as repairing the less retracted posterosuperior rotator cuff with a residual defect of the tendon-footprint junction. Tearing involving the subscapularis tendon was excluded. Factors collected included age, sex, diabetes, smoking, night pain, duration of symptoms, pain visual analog scale (VAS) score, acromiohumeral distance (AHD), and American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) score. Magnetic resonance images without intra-articular contrast were assessed for healing 6 months after surgery for all patients. Functional outcome was evaluated with ASES score. Degree of functional improvement was defined as the difference of ASES scores pre- and postoperatively (d-ASES). Paired t-test and simple linear analysis were used for statistical analysis.
Thirty-seven patients were included with a mean follow-up period of 29.6 ± 6.6 months. VAS score improved from 5.22 to 1.51 (P < .001). ASES score improved from 46.0 to 78.6 (P < .001). The incidence of night pain improved from 70.3% to 8.1% (P < .001). Only a preoperative lower ASES score, higher VAS score, and night pain were related to the higher d-ASES score (P < .001, P = .005, P = .017, respectively). The rate of repair failure was 41.6% at a mean follow-up of 6.4 months.
Arthroscopic partial repair of irreparable RCTs is an effective treatment to improve the shoulder function and decrease the pain, despite the high repair failure rate of 41.6%. Patients with preoperative lower functional score, higher VAS score, or night pain experienced a greater degree of functional improvement from the surgery. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, therapeutic case series.