OBJECTIVE: To analyze the available evidence comparing the clinical and functional outcomes of physiotherapy vs. surgical repair in the management of degenerative rotator cuff tears (RCTs), and to perform a meta-analysis to clarify the possible superiority of one approach vs. the other.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A literature search was carried out on the PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science databases on May 30th, 2020, to identify all the randomized trials comparing surgery to conservative management of degenerative rotator cuff tears. The following data were extracted from each included study: patients’ demographics, study design and level of evidence, follow-up times, treatment groups, evaluation scores adopted, overall clinical findings. The quality of the trials was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment.
RESULTS: A total of 7 studies, including 326 patients and dealing with conservative treatment vs. surgical repair for rotator cuff tears, were included in this study. Although surgery provided superior results both in terms of VAS (p=0.017) and Constant score (p<0.0001) compared to conservative management at 1 year follow-up, this superiority did not reach the “minimal clinical important difference”. Otherwise, a few data are available about long-term outcomes, thus there is insufficient evidence about the role of surgery to prevent the progression of tendon wear.
CONCLUSIONS: A proper rehabilitation program is able to provide similar results compared to surgery at a short term follow-up in degenerative RCTs. Further long term data are necessary to understand if tendon repair might have a protective role towards worsening of degeneration thus providing better clinical outcome than conservative management.Free PDF Download
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
To cite this article
R. Garibaldi, D. Altomare, C. Sconza, E. Kon, A. Castagna, M. Marcacci, E. Monina, B. Di Matteo
Conservative management vs. surgical repair in degenerative rotator cuff tears: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Vol. 25 - N. 2