The benefit of synthetic versus biological patch augmentation in the repair of posterosuperior massive rotator cuff tears: A 3-year follow-up study

Pietro Ciampi, Celeste Scotti, Alessandro Nonis, Matteo Vitali, Clelia Di Serio, Giuseppe M. Peretti, Gianfranco Fraschini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Rotator cuff repair typically results in a satisfactory, although variable, clinical outcome. However, anatomic failure of the repaired tendon often occurs. Hypothesis: Patch augmentation can improve the results of open rotator cuff repair by supporting the healing process, protecting the suture, and reducing friction in the subacromial space. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: A total of 152 patients with a posterosuperior massive rotator cuff tear were treated by open repair only (control group; n = 51; mean age, 67.06 ± 4.42 years), open repair together with collagen patch augmentation (collagen group; n = 49; mean age, 66.53 ± 5.17 years), or open repair together with polypropylene patch augmentation (polypropylene group; n = 52; mean age, 66.17 ± 5.44 years) and were retrospectively studied. Patients were evaluated preoperatively and after 36 months with a visual analog scale (VAS) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) shoulder rating scale and by measuring elevation of the scapular plane and strength with a dynamometer. The VAS and UCLA scores were also obtained 2 months postoperatively. Tendon integrity was assessed after 1 year by ultrasound. Patients were homogeneous as per the preoperative assessment. Results: After 2 months, results (mean ± standard deviation) for the control, collagen, and polypropylene groups, respectively, were as follows: VAS scores were 6.96 ± 1.11, 6.46 ± 1.02, and 4.92 ± 0.90, while UCLA scores were 11.29 ± 1.46, 11.40 ± 1.51, and 19.15 ± 1.99. After 36 months, the mean scores for the respective groups were 3.66 ± 1.05, 4.06 ± 1.02, and 3.28 ± 1.10 for the VAS and 14.88 ± 1.98, 14.69 ± 1.99, and 24.61 ± 3.22 for the UCLA scale. In addition, after 36 months, elevation on the scapular plane was 140.68° ± 9.84°, 140.61° ± 12.48°, and 174.71° ± 8.18°, and abduction strength was 8.73 ± 0.54 kg, 9.03 ± 0.60 kg, and 13.79 ± 0.64 kg for the control, collagen, and polypropylene groups, respectively. The retear rate after 12 months was 41% (21/51) for the control group, 51% (25/49) for the collagen group, and 17% (9/52) for the polypropylene group. In particular, the reduced 12-month retear rate and the increased UCLA scores, abduction strength, and elevation at 3-year follow-up were statistically significant for patients treated with a polypropylene patch compared with those treated with repair only or with a collagen patch. Conclusion: Polypropylene patch augmentation of rotator cuff repair was demonstrated to significantly improve the 36-month outcome in terms of function, strength, and retear rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1175
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • augmentation
  • open repair
  • patch
  • rotator cuff tear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Medicine(all)


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