Background: The treatment of irreparable rotator cuff tears (IRCTs) is a significant challenge, and various treatment options have emerged. Superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) is a promising procedure for patients with IRCTs.
Purpose: To investigate the clinical outcomes of SCR and compare allografts with autografts. Study Design: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: A search for relevant articles was carried out using the PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases. We used medical subject heading (MeSH) terms and natural keywords (superior AND (capsule OR capsular) AND reconstruction). Also, we filtered for high-quality articles using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies (MINORS). We summarized the characteristic data and commonly used outcome measures of each included study and performed a descriptive analysis using an evidence-based tendency concept as proposed by Huisstede et al (2013).
Results: A total of 10 articles (374 shoulders) with a mean follow-up of 27.2 months were selected and analyzed. There were 4 articles on SCR with an autograft, 4 on SCR with an allograft, and 2 on SCR with both an autograft and allograft. For autografts and allografts, respectively, the mean gain in forward elevation (FE) was 48.7 and 33.3, the visual analog scale for pain score improved by 3.5 and 3.3, the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) score increased by 47.3 and 31.9, and the acromiohumeral distance increased by 1.2 and 1.8 mm. In addition, the number of graft tears was 16 (10.0%) and 17 (12.9%), the number of other complications was 12 (7.5%) and 6 (3.9%), and the number of reoperations was 5 (3.1%) and 14 (8.2%) for autografts and allografts, respectively.
Conclusion: Both autografts and allografts improved clinical outcomes. Although the graft tear rate appeared similar between the autograft and allograft groups, the autograft group had no cases of conversion to reverse total shoulder arthroplasty. In addition, we found 3 evidence-based tendencies: (1) a tendency for both autografts and allografts to have significantly improved FE and clinical scores, (2) a tendency that autografts improved internal rotation and allografts improved abduction, and (3) a weak tendency that autografts improved abduction and allografts improved internal and external rotation. Although it was not possible to compare the groups statistically, the differences in ASES scores might be clinically important and will need to be explored in future comparative studies.
Keywords: rotator cuff injuries; shoulder; superior capsular reconstruction; systematic review