Management of full-thickness rotator cuff tears: Appropriate use criteria

Christopher C. Schmidt, Bernard F. Morrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: The appropriate use criteria (AUC) were developed for full-thickness rotator cuff tears to determine when it is reasonable to recommend nonoperative care, partial repair/débridement, repair, reconstruction, or arthroplasty. The goal of this report was to interpret and summarize the results of the AUC process into clinically relevant terms. Methods: Using the results of the AUC methodology, we systematically interpreted the clinical importance attributed to the various patient and pathologic variables. We then assessed the combination of considerations that would justify the various treatment options using "preference tables.". Results: A nonoperative program was appropriate if the patient had a positive response to conservative care. However, a repair could be maybe appropriate was also accepted. Rotator cuff repair was appropriate when conservative treatment failed in symptomatic patients. Reconstructive measures were recognized primarily in those with chronic massive tears. Most found arthroplasty maybe appropriate only in healthy patients, pseudoparalysis, and chronic massive tears. Surprisingly, neither factors that decreased healing nor adversely affected outcome had a strong influence on the panel's treatment recommendations. Conclusions: The AUC process accounts for clinical experience and considers individual patient and pathologic characteristics of the condition. Overall, the outcome of this exercise does support the current practice for the management of rotator cuff tears (ie, repair of symptomatic tears). However, the minimal importance given to patient and pathologic considerations, well documented to influence outcome, prompts an ongoing effort to refine this important and clinically relevant process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1860-1867
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of shoulder and elbow surgery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Appropriate use criteria
  • Arthroplasty
  • Full thickness rotator cuff tears
  • Nonoperative care rotator cuff
  • Partial repair/débridement
  • Rotator cuff
  • Rotator cuff repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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