Management of massive irreparable rotator cuff tears can be a source of significant dilemma for the treating surgeon. This is especially true when dealing with patients with poor physiological reserves where options of tendon transfer, superior capsular repair or arthroplasty might be unsuitable. We report the five-year outcomes of 26 patients who underwent balloon interpositional arthoplasty for the management of massive irreparable rotator cuff tears.


Fifty-four consecutive patients underwent balloon interpositional arthroplasty in our institution. Of these, 26 patients completed at least two postoperative functional outcome measures over a five-year period, which included the Visual Analogue Score (VAS), Oxford Shoulder Score (OSS) and the SF12 score. Outcome scores were obtained prospectively.


The average age at implantation was 67 years old. Our result shows statistically significant improvement in pain up to five years post-implantation of the device (p = 0.012). Function measured by the OSS and SF12 (PCS) score showed improvement up to two years post-implantation (p = 0.006). Three of the 54 patients in our cohort went on to have arthroplasty surgery for their rotator cuff tears. None of the patients in our cohort suffered from any adverse reactions following implantation.


Results from our study identify the spacer device as an option in the management of irreparable rotator cuff tears with statistical improvement in pain and function. It may also delay the need for arthoplasty surgery.

Keywords: Balloon, Irreparable, Massive, Rotator cuff tear, Subacromial spacer, Shoulder.
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