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Sports Med Arthrosc. 2011 Dec;19(4):428-37. doi: 10.1097/JSA.0b013e3182390639.

Latissimus dorsi tendon transfer for massive irreparable rotator cuff tears: a systematic review.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, Campus Biomedico University, Trigoria Rome, Italy.


Tendon transfers have been proposed as a possible solution to restore pain-free functions, strength, and range of motion in patients with massive and irreparable cuff tears. The aim of this review is to establish the outcomes of (1) latissimus dorsi tendon transfer (LDT-T) surgery performed as a single procedure or in combination with other muscle-tendon transfer procedures, replacement, or both; (2) LDT-T in primary and revision surgery for massive irreparable rotator cuff tears; (3) the LDT-T procedure in relation to subscapularis and teres minor integrity; (4) the LDT-T procedure in relation to the reattachment position on the humeral head of the transferred tendon; (5) the LDT-T procedure performed as a single or a double incision; (6) arthroscopic, open, or combined approach: and (7) the LDT-T procedure in patients with preoperative osteoarthritis and a nonosteoarthritic condition with the evaluation of osteoarthritis progression. A systematic review was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses guidelines. Studies of levels of evidence I-IV were included. The LDT-T surgical procedure, outcomes, and complications were evaluated. Twenty-two studies describing 493 shoulders in 487 patients were included in our study. There were no prospective randomized, controlled studies. LDT-T is a promising strategy for the management of massive and irreparable rotator cuff tears, even though no agreement was found on several aspects and options of LDT-T. Randomized prospective control studies are still awaited on this subject.

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