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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2017 Jul 19;99(14):1198-1205. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.16.00770.

Relationship Between Age and Rotator Cuff Retear: A Study of 1,600 Consecutive Rotator Cuff Repairs.

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1Orthopaedic Research Institute, St. George Hospital Campus, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



The prevalence of rotator cuff tears increases with age, and many patients undergo surgical repair. Retears are not uncommon, with rates ranging between 9% and 36% in recent studies, and are a major concern. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between patient age and the chance of healing following rotator cuff repair.


This was a retrospective cohort study of patients who had undergone arthroscopic rotator cuff repair performed by a single surgeon. All patients had an ultrasound performed by a musculoskeletal sonographer 6 months after rotator cuff repair to assess the repair integrity.


The cohort of 1,600 patients was normally distributed in terms of age, with a mean age (and standard error of the mean) of 59 ± 0.3 years and a range of 15 to 91 years. The 212 patients (13%) who had a retear at 6 months were also normally distributed in terms of age, with a mean age of 65 ± 0.8 years and a range of 15 to 88 years. The retear rate in patients <50 years old was 5%. This increased to 10% in patients aged 50 to 59 years, 15% in those aged 60 to 69 years, 25% in those aged 70 to 79 years, and 34% in those aged ≥80 years. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that patient age was an independent factor strongly associated with retears.


The rate of rotator cuff retears is low in patients <50 years of age. The relationship between age and rotator cuff retears is linear in patients 50 to 69 years of age, with an increase of 5% between decades, and increases substantially in patients ≥70 years old.


Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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