|Superior capsular reconstruction (source: Arthrex)|
Superior capsular reconstruction was developed in Japan as an alternative to shoulder replacement for patients with massive irreparable rotator cuff tears. The technique involves taking a tendon or skin graft and reconstructing the top of the shoulder. This technique reproduces the normal function of the rotator cuff. Early results have been promising. One study showed a significant increase in motion and strength in 23 patients treated with the technique. Pain was also significantly improved.
Who might benefit from this new procedure? Ideally, a younger patient (50's or 60's) who has an irreparable rotator cuff tear but doesn't want a shoulder replacement.
In my practice, I have begun to offer this procedure to selected patients. Early results have been good, but the technique is still new and the results very early. Time will tell if this procedure works well for everyone. The good news, though, is that it is minimally invasive, safe, and still allows for a shoulder replacement to be placed later.