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Latissimus Dorsi Tendon Transfer for Irreparable Rotator Cuff TearsA Systematic Review
Surena Namdari, MD, MSc1; Pramod B. Voleti, MD1; Keith Baldwin, MD, MPH, MSPT1; David Glaser, MD2; G. Russell Huffman, MD, MPH2
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, 2 Silverstein Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104
2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, 1 Cupp Pavilion, 3900 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail address for G.R. Huffman: Russell.Huffman@uphs.upenn.edu
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Investigation performed at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 May 16;94(10):891-898. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00841
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Massive and irreparable posterior-superior rotator cuff tears present a difficult treatment problem. The purpose of this systematic review was to critically examine the outcomes of latissimus dorsi tendon transfers for the treatment of irreparable rotator cuff tears.


A systematic review of the literature was performed via a search of electronic databases. Two reviewers independently assessed the methodological quality of, and extracted relevant data from, each included study. In cases in which the outcomes data were similar between studies, data were pooled for the purposes of generating summary outcomes through the use of frequency-weighted values.


Ten studies that fulfilled all inclusion and exclusion criteria were included. The frequency-weighted mean age was 58.7 years. Patients were followed for a frequency-weighted mean of 45.5 months (range, twenty-four to 126 months). Patients had a frequency-weighted mean adjusted Constant score of 45.9 preoperatively compared with 73.2 postoperatively (p < 0.001). The frequency-weighted mean active forward elevation improved from 101.9° preoperatively to 137.4° postoperatively (p < 0.001), and the frequency-weighted mean active external rotation improved from 16.8° to 26.7° (p < 0.001). Subscapularis muscle insufficiency, advanced teres minor muscle atrophy, and the need for revision surgery were correlated with poor functional outcomes in some studies.


Compiled data and frequency-weighted means demonstrated improvement in shoulder function, range of motion, strength, and pain relief after latissimus dorsi tendon transfer for irreparable rotator cuff tears. Patients and physicians should not expect an outcome of “normal” function or complete pain relief.

Level of Evidence: 

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

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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