BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Few authors have considered the outcome after acute traumatic rotator cuff tears in previously asymptomatic patients. We investigated whether delay of surgery, age at repair, and the number of cuff tendons involved affect the structural and clinical outcome. PATIENTS AND METHODS 42 patients with pseudoparalysis after trauma and no previous history of shoulder symptoms were included. A full-thickness tear in at least 1 of the rotator cuff tendons was diagnosed in all patients. Mean time to surgery was 38 (6-91) days. Follow-up at a mean of 39 (12-108) months after surgery included ultrasound, plain radiographs, Constant-Murley score, DASH score, and western Ontario rotator cuff (WORC) score. RESULTS At follow-up, 4 patients had a full-thickness tear and 9 had a partial-thickness tear in the repaired shoulder. No correlation between the structural or clinical outcome and the time to repair within 3 months was found. The patients with a tendon defect at follow-up had a statistically significantly lower Constant-Murley score and WORC index in the injured shoulder and were significantly older than those with intact tendons. The outcomes were similar irrespective of the number of tendons repaired. INTERPRETATION A delay of 3 months to repair had no effect on outcome. The patients with cuff defects at follow-up were older and they had a worse clinical outcome. Multi-tendon injury did not generate worse outcomes than single-tendon tears at follow-up.
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