Latissimus Dorsi Transfer in Posterior Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears

Panagiotis P. Anastasopoulos, George Alexiadis, Sarantis Spyridonos, Emmanouil Fandridis*
Hand Surgery-Upper Limb and Microsurgery Department, KAT General Hospital, Nikis 2 Str, Kifisia 145-61, Athens, Greece

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© 2017 Anastasopoulos et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Hand Surgery-Upper Limb and Microsurgery Department, KAT General Hospital, Nikis 2 Str, Kifisia 145-61, Athens, Greece; Tel: +00306936776972; Fax: +0030 2132986374; E-mail:



Massive rotator cuff tears pose a difficult and complex challenge even for the experienced surgeon; inability to repair these tears by conventional means designates them as irreparable, while management becomes quite taxing. Several operative options have been suggested for the management of such lesions with varying degrees of success, while it is imperative to match patient demands and expectations to the predicted outcome.


Research articles are examined and key concepts are discussed, in order to provide an evidence based review of the available literature. The anatomy and pathomechanics along with the indications, contraindications and surgical techniques are reported.


Transfer of the Latissimus dorsi has been used with success to restore shoulder function in deficits of the posterior rotator cuff. Although it can be used in a variety of settings, the ideal patient for a Latissimus dorsi tendon transfer is a young and active individual, with no glenohumeral osteoarthritis that has a severe disability and weakness related to an irreparable posterior cuff tear.


Tendon transfers have proved to be a successful treatment option in salvaging this difficult problem, providing pain relief and restoring shoulder function. Despite the excellent functional outcomes and pain suppression following operation, a variety of factors may affect the outcome; thus making indications and preoperative assessment a valuable component.

Keywords: Irreparable rotator cuff tears, Latissimus dorsi, Massive rotator cuff tears, Shoulder surgery, Tendon, Transfer.