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J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2011 Oct;19(10):583-9.

Biologic and pharmacologic augmentation of rotator cuff repairs.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.


As rotator cuff repair techniques have improved, failure of the tendon to heal to the proximal humerus is less likely to occur from weak tendon-to-bone fixation. More likely causes of failure include biologic factors such as intrinsic tendon degeneration, fatty atrophy, fatty infiltration of muscle, and lack of vascularity of the tendons. High failure rates have led to the investigation of biologic augmentation to potentially enhance the healing response. Histologic studies have shown that restoration of the rotator cuff footprint during repair can help reestablish the enthesis. In animal models, growth factors and their delivery scaffolds as well as tissue engineering have shown promise in decreasing scar tissue while maintaining biomechanical strength. Platelet-rich plasma may be a safe adjuvant to rotator cuff repair, but it has not been shown to improve healing or function. Many of these strategies need to be further defined to permit understanding of, and to optimize, the biologic environment; in addition, techniques need to be refined for clinical use.

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