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Arthroscopy. 2007 Nov;23(11):1152-61.

Reversal of suprascapular neuropathy following arthroscopic repair of massive supraspinatus and infraspinatus rotator cuff tears.

Author information

  • 1Harvard Shoulder Service, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this study was to study the prevalence of suprascapular neuropathy (SSN) in the setting of massive rotator cuff tears and to determine if arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, even if partial, was associated with reversal of SSN and clinical improvement in pain and function.

METHODS:

Over a 13-month period, 26 of 216 patients with rotator cuff tears treated operatively were identified to have massive tears associated with retraction and moderate to severe fatty infiltration of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles. All patients had pain and marked weakness in abduction and external rotation which did not improve with conservative treatment. Electrodiagnostic electromyographic/nerve conduction velocity (EMG/NCV) evaluation, as well as pre- and postoperative questionnaire and physical examination, were performed. An arthroscopic repair, either partial or complete, was performed on patients identified to have a massive rotator cuff tear in association with SSN.

RESULTS:

Fourteen of 26 patients with massive rotator cuff tears (54%) were identified to have a peripheral nerve injury. Seven of these 26 (38%) had isolated suprascapular nerve injury, 4 had axillary nerve injury, 2 had an associated upper trunk brachial plexus injury, and 1 had a cervical radiculopathy. All 7 patients with isolated suprascapular injury underwent arthroscopic treatment, 1 of which was not technically reparable at the time of surgery. In the 6 patients who underwent either partial or complete arthroscopic repair, follow-up EMG/NCV after 6 months demonstrated partial or full recovery of the suprascapular nerve palsy that correlated with complete pain relief and marked improvement in function.

CONCLUSIONS:

SSN is found in a significant proportion of patients with massive rotator cuff tears, and is associated with pain and dysfunction. Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair can result in reversal of SSN, which may correlate with substantial improvement in pain and function.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Level IV, case series.

Comment in

PMID:
17986401
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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