Repairing “irreparable” rotator cuff tears with biologic tissue

By Peter Pollack

Irreparable rotator cuff tears continue to challenge orthopaedic surgeons. Given improved understanding and advances in shoulder arthroscopy, the incidence of such tears may be decreasing, yet many cases are still considered irreparable. In a paper presented at the 2008 AAOS Annual Meeting, Stephen J. Snyder, MD, Jason A. Higgins, MD, James L. Bond, MD, and Joseph P. Burns, MD, presented the results of their study examining arthroscopic implantation of biologic tissue to reconstruct and replace a nonrepairable rotator cuff.

The team conducted a retrospective review of 15 patients with previously documented, massive, contracted, immobile rotator cuff tears that were treated with arthroscopic placement of a GraftJacket® (Wright Medical, Arlington, Tenn.) allograft matrix between March 2003 and March 2004. All patents were treated by a single surgeon and followed up at 3, 6, and 12 months. A minimum 2-year follow-up was also required for inclusion in the study results.

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