Objectives: Rotator cuff tear is the leading cause of the decline in quality of life for older adults, but comparative evidence on treatment effectiveness is lacking. This study systematically reviewed the effects of various rotator cuff tear treatments through a Bayesian meta-analysis of the related randomized clinical trials (RCTs).
Methods: We searched nine electronic databases for RCTs evaluating rotator cuff tear treatments from their inception through June 2017. A systematic review was performed following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-Decision Support Unit guidelines (Supplementary Table 1). Outcomes included functional improvement, pain one year after surgical treatment, and tendon structural integrity. The Bayesian network meta-analysis was applied for functional improvement and pain, based on an assumption of consistency and similarity. Tendon integrity was reported descriptively.
Results: Fifteen RCTs were selected. Patients undergoing physiotherapy after open surgery showed statistically significant functional improvements compared with those undergoing physiotherapy only (mean differences, 9.1 [credible interval, 0.9–17.4]). Open surgery with physiotherapy was associated with a decrease in pain 1 year after treatment compared with when physiotherapy was combined with arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery, mini open surgery, platelet-rich plasma therapy, or physiotherapy alone (absolute value of mean difference 1.2 to 1.4). The tendon integrity results were inconsistent.
Conclusions: Some surgical treatments were associated with significant improvement in function and pain, but evidence regarding their comparative effectiveness is still lacking. A well-designed RCT discussing functional and structural treatment outcomes is needed in future.