The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical results of latissimus dorsi tendon transfer in patients with an irreparable posterosuperior rotator cuff tear to help determine which patient and anatomic factors affect clinical outcome.
Fourteen patients with a latissimus dorsi tendon transfer were clinically evaluated with use of the PENN (University of Pennsylvania) shoulder score as well as with quantitative measurement of isometric muscle strength and the range of motion of both shoulders at a minimum of twenty-four months postoperatively. The anatomic results were evaluated with postoperative magnetic resonance imaging and electromyography.
Nine patients were satisfied with the outcome, had significant clinical improvement, and reported that they would have the operation again under similar circumstances. The other five patients were dissatisfied with the result and had significantly worse PENN scores, active elevation, and objective measures of strength. Eight of the nine patients with a good clinical result were male, and four of the five with a poor result were female. Patients with a good clinical result had had significantly better preoperative function in active forward flexion and active external rotation compared with the patients with a poor result. The magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated healing of the tendon to the greater tuberosity in twelve patients and equivocal healing in two. There was no significant atrophy of any of the transferred muscles. Electromyography demonstrated clear activity in the transferred latissimus muscle during humeral adduction in all fourteen patients, some electrical activity with active forward elevation in only one patient, and some electrical activity with active external rotation in six of the nine patients with a good clinical result. None of the patients with a poor clinical result demonstrated electrical activity of the transferred muscle with active forward flexion or external rotation.
Synchronous in-phase contraction of the transferred latissimus dorsi is a variable finding following the surgical treatment of irreparable posterosuperior rotator cuff tears, but when it is present it is associated with a better clinical result. Preoperative shoulder function and general strength influence the clinical result. Female patients with poor shoulder function and generalized muscle weakness prior to surgery have a greater likelihood of having a poor clinical result.
DISCLOSURE: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for or preparation of this work. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. A commercial entity (DePuy) paid or directed in any one year, or agreed to pay or direct, benefits in excess of $10,000 to a research fund, foundation, division, center, clinical practice, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors, or a member of their immediate families, are affiliated or associated.
The line drawings in this article are the work of Joanne Haderer Müller of Haderer & Müller ().
Investigation performed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The original scientific article in which the surgical technique was presented was published in JBJS Vol. 88-A, pp. 342-348, February 2006
- Copyright © 2007 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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