ISAKOS: 2019 Congress in Cancun, Mexico

2019 ISAKOS Biennial Congress ePoster #2046


Superior Capsular Reconstruction Using Dermal Allograft: Early Outcomes and Survival

Jarret M. Woodmass, MD, FRCSC, Winnipeg, MB CANADA
Eric R. Wagner, MD, MS, Atlanta, GA UNITED STATES
Kyle Borque, MD, Houston, TX UNITED STATES
Michelle Chang, BS, Boston, MA UNITED STATES
Kathryn Welp, MS, Boston, MA UNITED STATES
Jon J. P. Warner, MD, Boston, MA UNITED STATES

Boston Shoulder Institute, Harvard University, Boston, MA, UNITED STATES

FDA Status Not Applicable


Superior capsular reconstruction has a high rate of clinical failure predicted by revision surgery, female gender and fatty infiltration of the infraspinatus.



Chronic massive irreparable rotator cuff tears represent a treatment challenge and the optimal surgical technique remains controversial. Superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) has been proposed as a means to provide superior stability to the glenohumeral joint, thus facilitating restoration of shoulder function. However, despite the growing use of SCR there is a paucity of data evaluating the outcomes when performed using a dermal allograft. The purpose of this study was to (1) report the overall survival rate (reoperation and clinical failure) of SCR (2) evaluate for pre-operative factors predicting reoperation and clinical failure.


From January 1, 2015 to November 31, 2017, 65 patients were diagnosed with irreparable rotator cuff tears and consented for a superior capsular reconstruction. These surgeries were performed by 6 surgeons, all fellowship trained in either sports or shoulder and elbow fellowships. Outcomes were graded as excellent, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory using the modified Neer scale. An unsatisfactory result was defined as a clinical “failure”. The Kaplan-Meier survival models were created to analyze reoperation-free and failure-free survival for the entire group. The reconstruction was performed using a dermal allograft. There were 31 patients excluded due to insufficient follow-up (<6 months), leaving 34 included in this study. The mean follow-up was 12 months (range, 6-23). The average number of prior surgeries was 0.91 (range, 0-5), with 52.9% of patients receiving a prior rotator cuff repair and 38.2% of patients with a prior non-rotator cuff arthroscopy procedure.


The one and two-year survival-free of surgery was 64% and 44% and the one and two-year survival free of failure was 34% and 16% following SCR, respectively. For the patients that underwent a reoperation, 62.5% (n= 5/8) underwent reverse shoulder replacements, 25.0% (n= 2/8) latissimus dorsi tendon transfers, and 12.5% (n= 1/8) a diagnostic arthroscopy. The average period between the primary and revision surgery was 10.2 months (range, 2.1-18.5). All but two patients (75%, n= 6/8) had at least one surgery prior to the SCR. There were 14/34 (41.2%) patients who experienced pain, weakness, and restricted range of motion. These patients were defined as clinical failures with an unsatisfactory grading on Neer’s criteria. Previous surgery predicted reoperation (80% vs 43%; p = 0.03). Female gender predicted clinical failure (100% vs 43%; p<0.01).


Superior Capsule Reconstruction performed for large to massive rotator cuff tears has a high rate of persistent pain and limited function leading to clinical failure in 65% (n= 22/34) of patients. The rate of failure is increased in revision cases, female gender and increased Goutallier fatty infiltration of the infraspinatus. Narrowed indications are recommended given the surgical complexity and high rate of early failure.