Degenerative rotator cuff tear, repair or not repair? A review of current evidence

A. A. Narvani, M. A. Imam, A. Godenèche, E. Calvo, S. Corbett, A. L. Wallace, E. Itoi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: We review the literature and highlight the important factors to consider when counselling patients with non-traumatic rotator cuff tears on which route to take. Factors include the clinical outcomes of surgical and non-surgical routes, tendon healing rates with surgery (radiological outcome) and natural history of the tears if treated non-operatively. METHODS: A PRISMA-compliant search was carried out, including the online databases PubMed and Embase" from 1960 to the end of June 2018. FINDINGS: A total of 49 of the 743 (579 PubMed and 164 Embase") results yielded by the preliminary search were included in the review. There is no doubt that the non-surgical route with an appropriate physiotherapy programme has a role in the management of degenerative rotator cuff tears. This is especially the case in patients with significant risk factors for surgery, those who do not wish to go through a surgical treatment and those with small, partial and irreparable tears. However, rotator cuff repair has a good clinical outcome with significant improvements in pain, range of motion, strength, quality of life and sleep patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-155
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr


  • Degenerative
  • Impingement
  • Repair
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Shoulder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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