Arthroscopic debridement and acromioplasty versus mini-open repair in the treatment of significant partial-thickness rotator cuff tears

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Abstract

Partial tears of the rotator cuff, especially of the articular side, have received attention only with the recent ability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and arthroscopy to diagnose these lesions. Several early reports showed nearly 100% success in managing these lesions with arthroscopic debridement with or without acromioplasty. This series compares 32 patients with significant partial-thickness rotator cuff tears treated with debridement and acromioplasty versus 33 patients with mini-open repair. Follow-up was from 2 to 7 years. Preoperative MRI was not useful; when positive, preoperative arthrography was useful for articular side tears. Of the tears, 12% were bursal side tears and the remainder were articular side tears; all were at least 50% or more of the thickness of the tendon. A significant number of the arthroscopic group had fair results by UCLA score criteria. Three patients reruptured the remaining cuff later despite adequate acromioplasty. Healing of the partial tear was never observed at second-look arthroscopy. Although postoperative pain was significantly greater and recovery slower with open repair, no patient was reoperated on and rerupture of the repair did not occur. The outstanding results of prior studies of cuff debridement were not duplicated in this series of cuff debridements with long-term follow-up. Adequate acromioplasty alone does not prophylactically prevent rotator cuff tear progression. Recognition and repair of these significant partial tears may be advisable for the long-term function of the shoulder despite short-term improvement in morbidity with arthroscopic treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-131
Number of pages6
JournalArthroscopy - Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Acromioplasty
  • Arthroscopy
  • Debridement
  • Impingement
  • Rotator cuff
  • Shoulder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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