Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is a common procedure that is gaining wide acceptance among orthopaedic surgeons because it is less invasive than open repair techniques. However, there is little consensus on whether to employ single-row or double-row fixation. The purpose of the present study was to systematically review the English-language literature to see if there is a difference between single-row and double-row fixation techniques in terms of clinical outcomes and radiographic healing.Methods:
PubMed, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and EMBASE were reviewed with the terms "arthroscopic rotator cuff," "single row repair," and "double row repair." The inclusion criteria were a level of evidence of III (or better), an in vivo human clinical study on arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, and direct comparison of single-row and double-row fixation. Excluded were technique reports, review articles, biomechanical studies, and studies with no direct comparison of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair techniques. On the basis of these criteria, ten articles were found, and a review of the full-text articles identified six articles for final review. Data regarding demographic characteristics, rotator cuff pathology, surgical techniques, biases, sample sizes, postoperative rehabilitation regimens, American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores, University of California at Los Angeles scores, Constant scores, and the prevalence of recurrent defects noted on radiographic studies were extracted. Confidence intervals were then calculated for the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, University of California at Los Angeles, and Constant scores. Quality appraisal was performed by the two authors to identify biases.Results:
There was no significant difference between the single-row and double-row groups within each study in terms of postoperative clinical outcomes. However, one study divided each of the groups into patients with small-to-medium tears (<3 cm in length) and those with large-to-massive tears (=3 cm in length), and the authors noted that patients with large to massive tears who had double-row fixation performed better in terms of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores and Constant scores in comparison with those who had single-row fixation. Two studies demonstrated a significant difference in terms of structural healing of the rotator cuff tendons after surgery, with the double-row method having superior results. There was an overlap in the confidence intervals between the single-row and double-row groups for all of the studies and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, Constant, and University of California at Los Angeles scoring systems utilized in the studies, indicating that there was no difference in these scores between single-row and double-row fixation. Potential biases included selection, performance, detection, and attrition biases; each study had at least one bias. Two studies had potentially inadequate power to detect differences between the two techniques.Conclusions:
There appears to be a benefit of structural healing when an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is performed with double-row fixation as opposed to single-row fixation. However, there is little evidence to support any functional differences between the two techniques, except, possibly, for patients with large or massive rotator cuff tears (=3 cm). A risk-reward analysis of a patient's age, functional demands, and other quality-of-life issues should be considered before deciding which surgical method to employ. Double-row fixation may result in improved structural healing at the site of rotator cuff repair in some patients, depending on the size of the tear.