Does early repair of traumatic rotator cuff tears provide better outcomes? A systematic review


Rotator cuff; acute; traumatic; injury; repair; surgery; systematic review

Published online: Jan 22 2023

Iosafat Pinto, Nikolaos Patsiogiannis, Antonios M. Koumpias, David Limb, Peter Giannoudis

From the 2nd Orthopaedic Department of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, General Hospital of Thessaloniki “G.Gennimatas”, Thessaloniki, Greece.


Our aim was to systematically review literature of trauma related rotator cuff tears in order to evaluate the outcome and healing integrity in relation to time of surgery. Our research question was whether earlier surgical repair leads to superior functional results. This review was conducted according to PRISMA statement. A literature search of Pubmed, Embase, Cohrane was conducted, with two researchers assessing studies for eligibility and quality. A total of 20 studies, published between 1980 and 2019, met the inclusion criteria and were divided into two groups based on duration of symptoms before surgery. Group A comprised of studies in which duration was < 3 months and Group B > 3 months. Within each group there was a statistically significant improvement in the CS from pre-operative to post-operative outcome, but the improvement for Group A was statistically higher in comparison to Group B (P=0.01). Nevertheless, there was no significant difference in the final outcome for the two groups (P=0.29). The re-tear rate per 100 patients was calculated 28.5(±7.2) for Group A, and 17.2 (±12.56) for Group B (P=0.056). Our results suggest that functional outcome and tendon healing may not be valid arguments for early surgical repair. Therefore, repair of traumatic RCTs could be recommended whenever technically possible.