Does Additional Biceps Augmentation Improve Rotator Cuff Healing and Clinical Outcomes in Anterior L-Shaped Rotator Cuff Tears? Clinical Comparisons With Arthroscopic Partial Repair

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Abstract

Background:

The repair of anterior L-shaped tears is usually difficult because of the lack of anterior rotator cuff tendon to cover the footprint. The biceps tendon is usually exposed from the retracted anterolateral corner of the torn tendon and can be easily used to augment rotator cuff repair.

Hypothesis/Purpose:

This study compared the clinical outcomes of the biceps augmentation technique with those of partial tendon repair for the arthroscopic treatment of large anterior L-shaped rotator cuff tears to evaluate the role of additional biceps augmentation in tendon healing. We hypothesized that the biceps augmentation technique would lead to a lower rotator cuff tendon retear rate and provide satisfactory functional outcomes.

Study Design:

Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods:

This study included 64 patients with anterior L-shaped rotator cuff tears who underwent arthroscopic repair. Patients were divided into 2 groups: group A (31 patients) underwent repair of an anterior L-shaped tear combined with biceps augmentation, and group B (33 patients) had a partially repaired tendon whose footprint was exposed after repair without undue tension on the retracted tendon. Clinical evaluations were performed using the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) score, Constant score, muscle strength, visual analog scale for pain, and patient satisfaction. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed for tendon integrity at 6 months postoperatively.

Results:

The mean period of follow-up was 29.1 ± 3.5 months (range, 24-40 months). The mean ASES and Constant scores significantly improved from 52.8 ± 10.6 and 43.2 ± 9.9 preoperatively to 88.2 ± 6.9 and 86.8 ± 6.2 at final follow-up in group A (P < .001) and from 53.0 ± 11.8 and 44.3 ± 11.3 preoperatively to 87.4 ± 7.2 and 87.9 ± 7.3 at final follow-up in group B (P < .001). Overall muscle strength (given as % of the other side’s strength) significantly increased from preoperatively to final follow-up in group A (forward flexion [FF]: 62.0 ± 8.2 to 89.0 ± 8.6; external rotation [ER]: 57.5 ± 9.9 to 86.8 ± 9.3; internal rotation [IR]: 68.1 ± 10.8 to 88.1 ± 8.4; P < .001) and group B (FF: 59.9 ± 9.6 to 87.7 ± 9.0; ER: 58.6 ± 9.3 to 86.2 ± 7.5; IR: 70.0 ± 9.3 to 87.0 ± 8.4; P < .001). Twenty-one patients (67.7%) in group A and 20 patients (60.6%) in group B showed a healed rotator cuff tendon on postoperative MRI. The retear rate between the 2 groups showed no significant difference (P = .552). Regarding clinical outcomes, both groups had no significant difference in the ASES score (P = .901), Constant score (P = .742), and muscle strength.

Conclusion:

There was no significant difference in the clinical outcomes and retear rate of anterior L-shaped tears between biceps augmentation and partial tendon repair. Additional biceps augmentation proved to have no enhancement in tendon healing. A precise method such as only partial tendon repair for reducing the footprint exposure without undue tension may be considered as one of the treatment options for large anterior L-shaped rotator cuff tears.

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