Comparative Time to Improvement in Nonoperative and Operative Treatment of Rotator Cuff Tears

Amos Song, Joshua DeClercq, Gregory D. Ayers, Laurence D. Higgins, John E. Kuhn, Keith M. Baumgarten, Elizabeth Matzkin, Nitin B. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Comparative time to recovery after operative and nonoperative treatment for rotator cuff tears is an important consideration for patients. Hence, we compared the time to achieve clinically meaningful reduction in shoulder pain and function after treatment. METHODS: From February 2011 to June 2015, a multicenter cohort of patients with rotator cuff tears undergoing operative or nonoperative treatment was recruited. After propensity score weighting, the Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate the time to achieve a minimal clinically important difference (MCID), >30% reduction, and >50% reduction in the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI) and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) scores. (In our analysis, both ASES and SPADI were coded such that a lower number corresponded to a better outcome; thus, the word "reduction" was used to indicate improvement in both ASES and SPADI scores.) A 2-stage test was conducted to detect a difference between the 2 groups. RESULTS: In this cohort, 96 patients underwent nonoperative treatment and 73 patients underwent a surgical procedure. The surgical treatment group and the nonoperative treatment group were significantly different with respect to SPADI and ASES scores (p < 0.05). The maximum difference between groups in achievement of the MCID for the SPADI scores was at 3.25 months, favoring the nonoperative treatment group. The probability to achieve the MCID was 0.06 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.00 to 0.12) for the surgical treatment group compared with 0.40 (95% CI, 0.29 to 0.50) for the nonoperative treatment group. The surgical treatment group had a greater probability of achieving >50% reduction in SPADI scores at 15.49 months (0.20 [95% CI, 0.12 to 0.29] for the surgical treatment group compared with 0.04 [95% CI, 0.00 to 0.09] for the nonoperative treatment group). The surgical treatment group had a greater probability of achieving >50% reduction in ASES scores at 24.74 months (0.96 [95% CI, 0.84 to 0.99] for the surgical treatment group compared with 0.66 [95% CI, 0.53 to 0.75] for the nonoperative treatment group). The differences for >30% reduction in SPADI and ASES scores and the MCID for ASES scores were not significant. CONCLUSIONS: Patients undergoing nonoperative treatment had significantly better outcomes in the initial follow-up period compared with patients undergoing a surgical procedure, but this trend reversed in the longer term. These data can be used to inform expectations for nonoperative and operative treatments for rotator cuff tears. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1142-1150
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume
Volume102
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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