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Orthop J Sports Med


BACKGROUND: Rotator cuff repair is a common orthopedic procedure that provides pain relief for many patients, but unfortunately, an estimated 20% to 70% of repair procedures will fail. Previous research has shown that elongation (ie, retraction) of a repaired tendon is common even in patients with a repair construct that appears intact on magnetic resonance imaging. However, it is unknown how this repair tissue functions under dynamic conditions.

PURPOSE: To quantify static retraction and maximum dynamic elongation of repair tissue after rotator cuff repair.

STUDY DESIGN: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS: Data from 9 patients were analyzed for this study. During surgery, a 3.1-mm tantalum bead was sutured to the supraspinatus tendon, medial to the repair site. Glenohumeral kinematics were assessed at 1 week (static) and 3 months (static and during scapular-plane abduction) after surgery using a biplanar videoradiographic system. The 3-dimensional position of the bead was calculated relative to the tendon’s insertion on the humerus (ie, bead-to-insertion distance). Static retraction was calculated as the change in the bead-to-insertion distance under static conditions between 1 week and 3 months after surgery, and maximum dynamic elongation was calculated as the maximal positive change in the bead-to-insertion distance during dynamic motion relative to the start of motion. The magnitudes of static retraction and maximum dynamic elongation were assessed with 1-sample t tests.

RESULTS: At 3 months after surgery, static retraction occurred in all patients by a mean of 10.0 ± 9.1 mm (P = .01 compared with no elongation). During scapular-plane abduction, maximum dynamic elongation averaged 1.4 ± 1.0 mm (P < .01 compared with no elongation). Descriptively, dynamic elongation consistently took 1 of 2 forms: an initial increase in the bead-to-insertion distance (mean, 2.0 ± 0.6 mm) before decreasing until the end of motion or an immediate and substantial decrease in the bead-to-insertion distance at the onset of motion.

CONCLUSION: Repair tissue elongation (static retraction and maximum dynamic elongation) appeared to be a common and significant finding at 3 months after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. Dynamic elongation of repair tissue during scapular-plane abduction exhibited 1 of 2 distinct patterns, which may suggest different patterns of supraspinatus mechanical and neuromuscular function.

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