BACKGROUND:
There is an ongoing debate on the treatment of bursal-sided partial-thickness rotator cuff tears (PTRCTs), including ideal repair techniques. Augmentation using a collagen patch has been introduced as a new surgical approach to treat PTRCTs, while the effect of autogenous biceps augmentation (BA) has not been investigated.

PURPOSE:
To analyze the effects of BA on bursal-sided PTRCTs and compare its histological and biomechanical results with those of tear completion followed by repair and in situ repair (ISR).

STUDY DESIGN:
Controlled laboratory study.

METHODS:
Unilateral chronic PTRCTs were created in 96 mature New Zealand White rabbits, which were randomly divided into 4 groups: no repair, tear completion repair (TCR), ISR, and BA. A new bicipital groove was fabricated in BA for the biceps tendon that was transferred to augment the bursal-sided PTRCT repair. In each group, we sacrificed 6 rabbits for biomechanical testing of the whole tendon-to-bone complex (WTBC) and 6 for histological evaluation of bursal- and articular-sided layers at 6 and 12 weeks postoperatively. Healing responses between the biceps and new bicipital groove in the BA group were determined using histological analysis, and final groove morphologies were evaluated using micro-computed tomography.

RESULTS:
The remaining tendon and enthesis in bursal-sided PTRCTs progressively degenerated over time. WTBCs of ISR exhibited a larger failure load than those of TCR, although better healing properties in the bursal-sided repaired site were achieved using TCR based on histological scores and superior articular-sided histological scores were observed using ISR. However, WTBCs of BA displayed the best biomechanical results and superior histological scores for bursal- and articular-sided regions. The new bicipital groove in BA remodeled over time and formed similar morphologies to a native groove, which provided a mature bone bed for transferred biceps tendon healing to augment bursal-sided PTRCTs.

CONCLUSION:
BA achieved better biomechanical and histological results for repairing bursal-sided PTRCTs as compared with TCR and ISR. When compared with that of TCR, the WTBC of ISR exhibited a higher failure load, showing histological superiority in the articular-sided repair and inferiority in the bursal-sided repair.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE:
BA may be an approach to improve bursal-sided PTRCT repair in humans, which warrants further clinical investigation.





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