Surgical repair of symptomatic, retracted rotator cuff tears unresponsive to non-operative treatments requires closure of the tear without undue tension and reattaching the torn tendon to its former insertion site. In this study, the length of the torn tendon edge was hypothesized to be longer than the length of the humeral insertion site. The objective of this study was to quantify the discrepancy in length of the torn tendon edge and the length of the avulsed humeral insertion site.
Materials and methods
Full thickness, rotator cuff tears that were found in twelve fresh frozen cadaver shoulders was studied. The length of the torn tendon edge, the length of the avulsed humeral insertion site and the retraction were measured using digital calipers.
Each tear involved the supraspinatus and the infraspinatus was additionally torn in six. The size of the tear was medium in eight and large in four. The length of the torn tendon edge was always longer than the length of the avulsed humeral insertion site. Retraction was 29.9 ± 9.3 mm (range 21–48 mm). The repair ratio, defined as the ratio of length of torn tendon edge to the length of avulsed humeral insertion site, was 2.6 ± 0.4 (range 2.1–3.5).
As only the length of the torn tendon edge equal to the length of the avulsed humeral insertion site can be repaired to bone, a repair ratio more than one precludes a simple repair and an additional repair technique such as margin convergence would be necessary for the remaining unapproximated torn tendon edge in rotator cuff tears. Repair ratio may aid in selection of the surgical repair technique of these rotator cuff tears.
Keywords: Rotator cuff tear, Repair, Retraction, Insertion