Arthroscopic Repair of Full-Thickness Rotator Cuff Tears: Is There Tendon Healing in Patients Aged 65 Years or Older?

Authors: Christophe Charousset, Laurence Bellaïche, Kunal Kalra, David Petrover

References: Arthroscopy. 26(3):302-309. March 2010

The aim of this study was to assess tendon healing and clinical results of rotator cuff tears (RCTs) repaired arthroscopically in patients aged 65 years or older.

Between January 2001 and December 2004, 88 patients with a mean age of 70 years (range, 65 to 85 years) had arthroscopic RCT repair. The repair was performed on 54 women (61%). The dominant arm was involved in 72 patients (82%). RCT included more than 2 tendons in 45 cases. Functional outcomes were assessed by use of the Constant score and Simple Shoulder Test. Tendon healing was estimated by use of a computed tomography (CT) arthrogram, which was obtained 6 months postoperatively, and was classified into 3 categories: stage 1, watertight and anatomic healing; stage 2, watertight and partial healing; and stage 3, not watertight and retear.

The mean duration of follow-up was 41 months (range, 24 to 77 months). The mean clinical outcome scores all improved significantly at the time of the final follow-up (P < .01). Computed tomography arthrogram imaging showed 27 shoulders with a stage 1 repair, 20 with a stage 2 repair, and 34 with a stage 3 repair. The retear rate was 42% (34 of 81). The patients with tendon healing stage 1 or 2 had a significantly superior functional outcome in terms of overall scores and strength compared with the stage 3 repairs (P < .01). In our study we had 39 isolated supraspinatus tears (small or medium tears); 11 (28.9%) had a retear (stage 3).

Arthroscopic repair in patients aged 65 years or older can yield tendon healing resulting in significant functional improvement. Our data suggest that arthroscopic repair can be considered successful for the older patient specifically when the tear is limited to the supraspinatus tendon.Level of

Evidence Level IV, therapeutic case series.


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