Use of Extracellular Matrix Grafts to Augment Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery on the Rise

Current literature suggests that between 30,000 and 75,000 rotator cuff repair (RCR) surgeries are performed annually in the United States.1 Recent reports have indicated that the re-tear rate of RCR surgeries is between 20% and 40% and can be as high as 94% for chronic rotator cuff tears.1 Because of these rates, there is a growing demand for alternative strategies to augment RCR surgeries that will improve functional outcomes in patients and decrease unnecessary healthcare spending on subsequent surgeries.

One such alternative strategy is extracellular matrix (ECM) grafts, which have grown in popularity because of their inherent ability to facilitate stimulated healing environments for recovering human tissue. The dynamic nature of these 3D scaffolds, composed primarily of water, proteins, and polysaccharides, supports tissue in-growth while the mesh-like network of the graft allows for revascularization and enhanced cell population to areas of relatively low blood supply.2,3 Current studies suggest that augmenting a RCR with an ECM graft may lead to improvements in strength, range of motion, pain, and function of the affected shoulder. However, clinicians should continue to make skilled decisions based on patient response to therapy, as conflicting evidence exists regarding the use of ECM grafts for augmenting RCR surgery.3,4,5,6

To inquire more about extracellular matrix grafts for a rotator cuff tear, contact


1.) B. W. Sears, A. Choo, A. Yu, A. Greis, and M. Lazarus, “Clinical Outcomes in Patients Undergoing Revision Rotator Cuff Repair with Extracellular Matrix Augmentation,” Orthopedics 38, no. 4 (2015): 292–296, doi:10.3928/01477447-20150402-57.

2.) C. Frantz, K. Stewart, and V. Weaver, “The Extracellular Matrix at a Glance,” Journal of Cell Science 123, no. 24 (2010): 4195–4200, doi:10.1242/jcs.023820.

3.) F. A. Barber, J. P. Burns, A. Deutsch, M. R. Labbé, and R. B. Litchfield, “A Prospective, Randomized Evaluation of Acellular Human Dermal Matrix Augmentation for Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair,” Arthroscopy 28, no. 1 (2012): 8–15, doi:10.1016/j.arthro.2011.06.038.

4.) F. H. Savoie, L. D. Field, R. N. Jenkins, “Costs Analysis of Successful Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery: An Outcome Study,” Arthroscopy 11, no. 6 (1995): 672–676, PMID: 8679026.

5.) G. J. Gilot, A. M. Alvarez-Pinzon, L. Barcksdale, D. Westerdahl, M. Krill, and E. Peck, “Outcome of Large to Massive Rotator Cuff Tears Repaired with and without Extracellular Matrix Augmentation: A Prospective Comparative Study,” Arthroscopy 31, no. 8 (2015): 1459–1465, doi:10.1016/j.arthro.2015.02.032.

6.)Gupta AK, Hug K, Berkoff DJ, Boggess BR, Gavigan M, Malley PC, Toth AP. Dermal tissue allograft for the repair of massive irreparable rotator cuff tears. Am J Sports Med. 2012; 40(1): 141-147. DOI:10.1177/0363546511422795.