The decision to perform rotator cuff repair (RCR) versus reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (rTSA) for massive rotator cuff tear (MCT) without arthritis can be difficult. Our aim was to identify preoperative variables that are influential in a surgeon's decision to choose one of the two procedures and evaluate outcomes.
We retrospectively reviewed 181 patients older than 65 who underwent RCR or rTSA for MCT without arthritis. Clinical and radiographic data were collected and used to evaluate the preoperative variables in each of these two patient populations and assess outcomes.
Ninety-five shoulders underwent RCR and 92 underwent rTSA with an average followup of 44 and 47 months, respectively. Patients selected for RCR had greater preoperative flexion (113 vs 57), abduction (97 vs 53), and external rotation (42 vs 32), higher SST (3.1 vs 1.9) and ASES scores (43.8 vs 38.6), and were less likely to have had previous cuff surgery (6.3% vs 35.9%). Patients selected for rTSA had a smaller acromiohumeral interval (4.8 vs 8.7) and more superior subluxation (50.6% vs 14.1%). Similar preoperative characteristics included pain, comorbidities, and BMI. Patients were satisfied in both groups and had significant improvement in motion and function postoperatively.
Both RCR and rTSA can result in significant functional improvement and patient satisfaction in the setting of MCT without arthritis in patients older than 65. At our institution, patients who underwent rTSA had less pre-operative motion, lower function, more evidence of superior migration, and were more likely to have had previous rotator cuff surgery.
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