Journal of shoulder and elbow surgery

Does microvascularization of the footprint play a role in rotator cuff healing of the shoulder?

PMID 26116206


The aim of the study was to evaluate the relationship between bone microvascularization of the footprint and tendon integrity after rotator cuff repair of the shoulder. Forty-eight patients (mean age, 59 years; ±7.9) with a chronic rotator cuff tear underwent a tendon repair with a single-row technique and were studied prospectively. A core obtained from the footprint during the procedure allowed determination of the bone's microvascularization with an immunohistochemistry technique using anti-CD34 antibodies. Clinical evaluation was performed at a minimum of 12-month follow-up, and rotator cuff integrity was assessed with ultrasound according to Sugaya's classification. At a mean follow-up of 13 months, the Constant score improved from 40 to 75 points; American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score, from 59 to 89 points; and subjective shoulder value, from 38% to 83% (P < .001). Ultrasound identified 18 patients with Sugaya type I healing, 27 patients with type II, and 3 patients with type IV. No patients showed Sugaya type III or V repairs. The rate of microvascularization of the footprint was 15.6%, 13.9%, and 4.2% for type I, II, and IV tendon integrity, respectively (I vs. II, P = .22; II vs. IV, P = .02; I vs. IV, P = .0022). Patients with a history of corticosteroid injection had a lower rate of microvascularization than the others (10.3% vs. 16.2%; P = .03). Even if overall satisfactory clinical outcomes are achieved after a rotator cuff repair, bone microvascularization of the footprint plays a role in rotator cuff healing. A lower rate of microvessels decreases the tendon integrity and healing potential after repair.