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Biceps Detachment Preserves Joint Function in a Chronic Massive Rotator Cuff Tear Rat Model

Mengcun Chen, Snehal S. Shetye, Julianne Huegel, Corinne N. Riggin, Daniel J. Gittings, Courtney A. Nuss, Stephanie N. Weiss, Andrew F. Kuntz, Louis J. Soslowsky
The American Journal of Sports Medicine2018
Background: Lesions of the long head of the biceps tendon are often associated with massive rotator cuff tears (MRCTs), and biceps tenotomy is frequently performed for pain relief and functional reservation. However, the efficacy and safety of biceps tenotomy regarding the effects on the surrounding tissues in chronic MRCT are unclear. Hypothesis: Biceps tenotomy would result in improved mechanical and histological properties of the intact subscapularis tendon and improved in vivo shoulder function while not compromising glenoid cartilage properties. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: Right supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons were detached in 25 male Sprague-Dawley rats, followed by 4 weeks of cage activity to create a chronic MRCT condition. Animals were randomly divided into 2 groups and received either biceps tenotomy (n = 11) or sham surgery (n = 14) and were sacrificed 4 weeks thereafter. Forelimb gait and ground-reaction forces were recorded 1 day before the tendon detachment (baseline), 1 day before the surgical intervention (biceps tenotomy or sham), and 3, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 28 days after the intervention to assess in vivo shoulder joint function. The subscapularis tendon and glenoid cartilage were randomly allocated for mechanical testing or histologic assessment after the sacrifice. Results: Compared with sham surgery, biceps tenotomy partially restored the in vivo shoulder joint function, with several gait and ground-reaction force parameters returning closer to preinjury baseline values at 4 weeks. With biceps tenotomy, mechanical properties of the subscapularis tendons were improved, while mechanical properties and histological Mankin scores of the gle- noid cartilage were not diminished when compared with the sham group. Conclusion: Biceps tenotomy in the presence of chronic MRCT partially preserves overall shoulder function and potentially restores subscapularis tendon health without causing detrimental effects to joint cartilage. This laboratory study adds to the grow- ing literature regarding the protective effects of biceps tenotomy on the shoulder joint in a chronic MRCT model. Clinical Relevance: This study provides important basic science evidence supporting the use of biceps tenotomy in patients with massive rotator cuff tears.
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