Dr. Killian and collaborators recently published a paper titled: “Chronic Degeneration Leads to Poor Healing of Repaired Massive Rotator Cuff Tears in Rats,” in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
Chronic, degenerative rotator cuff tears are difficult to repair, and “successful” repairs tend to fail after surgery. This is a problem, in particular, for patients over the age of 65, who often develop rotator cuff tears asymptomatically and can present with degenerative and seemingly non-reversible muscle atrophy and bone loss of the shoulder. It is unclear if these muscle/bone adaptations lead to poor healing outcomes in the case of chronic rotator cuff disease. This study suggests that, in a small animal model of rotator cuff disease, chronic degenerative changes to the rotator cuff muscle led to inferior post-repair healing properties compared to repair following an acute injury without degenerative adaptation.