Various options are available for treating massive irreparable rotator cuff tears, but all have their own limitations and no gold standard currently exists. Our aim was to report on outcomes of bridging repair with a dermal allograft for symptomatic massive irreparable rotator cuff tears where primary or partial repair was not possible.

Patients and methods:
We prospectively reviewed 22 patients who underwent an open interposition bridging repair with an allograft (GraftJacket) sutured medially to the residual rotator cuff stump and laterally to the footprint with suture anchors. Mean age at time of surgery was 59 years (range 53-66 years). The Oxford Shoulder Score, pain visual analogue scale and range of motion were compared pre-operatively and at mean follow up of 2.8 years. All patients had a postoperative MRI scan.

There was a significant improvement in mean Oxford Shoulder Score from a pre-operative score of 14.2-34.3 points (p <  0.01) at final follow up. Pain VAS score improved from 6.6 points to 2.8 points (p <  0.05). Significant improvements in range of motion were also seen. Postoperative MRI scans showed a retear in 8 patients (36%), but the retear size was smaller and an improvement in outcomes maintained at final follow up.

Open dermal allograft bridging repair for massive irreparable rotator cuff tears can lead to satisfactory outcomes and delay the need for a reverse shoulder arthroplasty.

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