Arthroscopic Superior Capsular Reconstruction for Massive, Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears: A Systematic Review of Modern Literature Journal Articles uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: To systematically review and evaluate the efficacy and complication profile of superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) as a technique to address massive, irreparable rotator cuff tears (MIRCTs). METHODS: Searches of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Embase, MEDLINE, PubMed, and conference abstracts of 4 major conferences identified clinical studies addressing SCR for MIRCTs. Two reviewers independently screened the titles, abstracts, and full texts, extracting data from eligible studies. Reported outcome measures and complications were descriptively analyzed. RESULTS: A total of 10 studies, 7 full texts and 3 conference abstracts, satisfied the inclusion criteria. The included studies examined a total of 350 shoulders with a mean patient age of 60.6 years and mean follow-up period of 20.6 months postoperatively. Only 4 studies had a minimum of 24-month follow-up data. Statistically significant improvements in pain and function were noted in all studies reporting results, with mean improvement ranging from 29.4 to 68.5 and from 2.5 to 5.9 points across the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score and visual analog scale score, respectively. Mean improvement in range of motion ranged from 21.7° to 64.0° in elevation and from 9.0° to 15.0° in external rotation. Statistically significant improvements in the postoperative acromiohumeral distance were noted in 4 of 5 reporting studies, with a mean increase ranging from 2.2 to 5.0 mm. The combined clinical and radiographic failure and/or retear rate ranged from 3.4% to 36.1%. Complications for all studies included deep infection (0%-2%), symptomatic suture anchor loosening (0%-4%), and severe shoulder contracture (0%-2%). CONCLUSIONS: Arthroscopic SCR represents an accepted surgical option for patients with MIRCTs, with short-term improvements shown in pain, range of motion, and function. Although early results are promising, further studies are necessary to determine the long-term success of this technique and to better delineate the clinical indications, survivorship, and risk factors for failure in this population. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, systematic review of Level III and IV studies.


  • Catapano, Michael
  • de SA, Darren
  • Ekhtiari, Seper
  • Lin, Albert
  • Bedi, Asheesh
  • Lesniak, Bryson P

publication date

  • April 2019