Superior Capsular Reconstruction Provides Sufficient Biomechanical Outcomes for Massive, Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears: A Systematic Review

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To critically review the literature reporting biomechanical outcomes of superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) for the treatment of massive and/or irreparable rotator cuff tears.


A systematic review was performed following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses) guidelines using the PubMed, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Library databases in August 2020. Cadaveric studies were assessed for glenohumeral translation, subacromial contact pressure, and superior humeral translation comparing SCR with an intact cuff with reference to a torn control state.


A total of 15 studies (142 shoulders) were included in our data analysis. SCR showed improvements in superior humeral translation, subacromial contact force, and glenohumeral contact force when biomechanically compared with the massive and/or irreparably torn rotator cuff. No statistically significant differences were found between SCR and the intact rotator cuff regarding superior humeral translation (standard mean difference [SMD], 2.09 mm vs 2.50 mm; P = .54) or subacromial contact force (SMD, 2.85 mPa vs 2.83 mPa; P = .99). Significant differences were observed between SCR and the intact cuff for glenohumeral contact force only, in favor of the intact cuff (SMD, 1.73 N vs 5.45 N; P= .03).


SCR may largely restore static restraints to superior humeral translation in irreparable rotator cuff tears, although active glenohumeral compression is diminished relative to the intact rotator cuff.

Clinical Relevance

Investigating the biomechanical outcomes of SCR will help surgeons better understand the effectiveness of this treatment option.


This article was published in Arthroscopy, Volume 37, Issue 1.

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Copyright © 2020 Arthroscopy Association of North America.

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