Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.
This month, Aaron Chamberlain, MD, MSc, a co-author of the October 19, 2016 Specialty Update on Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, selected the five most clinically compelling findings from among the more than 40 studies summarized in the Specialty Update.
Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty
Optimizing reverse shoulder arthroplasty implant design continues to be a research focus. There is significant variation among different implants with regard to the amount of lateralization of the center of rotation, and how lateralization affects clinical outcomes is of particular interest. Authors randomized patients to undergo reverse shoulder arthroplasty with a center of rotation at the native glenoid face or with lateralization.1 Postoperative functional results at a mean follow-up of 22 months were similar between groups overall. However, when the analysis excluded patients with teres minor muscle degeneration, patients with a more lateralized center of rotation had a greater improvement in external rotation. This may portend a benefit of lateralization in the setting of an intact posterior rotator cuff.
Rotator Cuff Tear Natural History
A Level-I prospective cohort study of patients with asymptomatic rotator cuff tears evaluated patterns of tear progression over time.2 Of specific interest was whether the integrity of the anterior supraspinatus cable influenced tear size and/or risk for tear enlargement. Cable-disrupted tears were 9 mm larger at baseline, but cable integrity did not influence risk for tear enlargement or time to enlargement. This understanding may help inform patient discussions about the risks of nonoperative management of rotator cuff tears.
Rotator Cuff Repair
Do patients with symptomatic degenerative rotator cuff tears fare better with surgery or nonoperative management? Only three prospective randomized trials have been published comparing outcomes after randomizing patients to nonoperative management or surgical repair. This Level-I trial randomized patients (mean age of 61) with degenerative full thickness cuff tears to either a course of non-operative management (corticosteroid injection, physical therapy, and oral analgesics) or surgical rotator cuff repair. 3 Patients who underwent surgery experienced a greater reduction in VAS pain and VAS disability scores compared with the nonoperative cohort at 1 year of follow-up.
In another prospective randomized study, authors randomized patients who were ≥55 years of age with painful degenerative supraspinatus tears into one of three treatments: 1) physical therapy alone, 2) acromioplasty and physical therapy, and 3) rotator cuff repair, acromioplasty, and physical therapy. Patients in this study were older than those in the study mentioned above, with a mean age of 65 (range 55 to 81). At the 2-year follow-up, no significant differences among the three interventions were seen in the Constant score, VAS pain score, or patient satisfaction. This data supports initial conservative treatment in older patients with degenerative atraumatic cuff tears. However, the importance of tear progression over time and the age threshold that separates “older” patients from “younger” patients remain to be determined.
Can we improve the biologic healing environment for rotator cuff repair healing? A Level-I prospective randomized controlled study evaluated leukocyte and platelet-rich fibrin in rotator cuff repairs.4 Patients underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff repair with and without leukocyte and platelet-rich fibrin applied to the repair site. No beneficial effect of leukocyte and platelet-rich fibrin was found in overall clinical outcome, healing rate, postoperative defect size, and tendon quality at the 1-year follow-up. A reliable biological augmentation solution for rotator cuff healing remains elusive.
1 Greiner S, Schmidt C, Herrmann S, Pauly S, Perka C. Clinical performance of lateralized versus non-lateralized reverse shoulder arthroplasty: a prospective randomized study. J. Shoulder Elbow Surg. [Internet]. 2015;24(9):1397–404. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1058274615002864doi:10.1016/j.jse.2015.05.041
2 Keener JD, Hsu JE, Steger-May K, Teefey SA, Chamberlain AM, Yamaguchi K. Patterns of tear progression for asymptomatic degenerative rotator cuff tears. J. Shoulder Elbow Surg. [Internet]. 2015 Dec 1;24(12):1845–1851. Available from: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1058274615004759
3 Lambers Heerspink FO, van Raay JJAM, Koorevaar RCT, van Eerden PJM, Westerbeek RE, van ’t Riet E, et al. Comparing surgical repair with conservative treatment for degenerative rotator cuff tears: a randomized controlled trial. J. Shoulder Elbow Surg. [Internet]. 2015;24(8):1274–81. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1058274615002852doi:10.1016/j.jse.2015.05.040
4 Zumstein MA, Rumian A, Thélu CÉ, Lesbats V, O’Shea K, Schaer M, et al. SECEC Research Grant 2008 II: Use of platelet- and leucocyte-rich fibrin (L-PRF) does not affect late rotator cuff tendon healing: a prospective randomized controlled study. J. Shoulder Elbow Surg. [Internet]. 2016 Jan 1;25(1):2–11. Available from: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1058274615005388