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Superior Capsule Reconstruction

The shoulder joint is stabilized by the joint capsule and rotator cuff. Tears to the rotator cuff can cause severe pain and impairment. Superior capsular reconstruction is a surgical procedure performed to restore shoulder stability in irreparable rotator cuff tears.

Disease overview

The articulation between these bones to move the shoulder in all possible directions is supported by a group of four muscles called the rotator cuff, which surround the shoulder joint.

A fall on an outstretched arm, repetitive stress, abnormal bone growth or a sudden jerk while lifting a heavy object can cause the rotator cuff to tear. A rotator cuff tear can be treated with non-surgical or surgical repair. However, irreparable rotator cuff tears are massive tears that cannot be easily repaired. They may be asymptomatic or present with severe pain and disability.


Superior capsule reconstruction is indicated for massive rotator cuff tears that cannot be repaired. Such tears are characterized by the size and extent of retraction of the tears. Superior capsule reconstruction is suggested when:

  • Initial attempt at repairing the tears by immobilization and soft-tissue release fails
  • Arthritis of the glenohumeral joint (chondromalacia)
  • Presence of sufficient amount of healthy bone to allow fixation of anchors
  • Minimal migration of the humerus
  • Intact teres minor and subscapularis muscles of the rotator cuff

Surgical procedure

Superior capsule reconstruction can be performed through a shoulder scope, and is minimally invasive. The top of the glenoid and the head of the humerus are first prepared. Drill holes are created. Three suture anchors are introduced at the medial glenoid. Two anchors loaded with fiber tape are inserted into the greater tuberosity of the humerus.

A cadaver graft made of skin, dermis, and soft tissue is used for the reconstruction. The spaces between these anchors are measured and a graft prepared according to size. The sutures are extracted through the incision and threaded through corresponding holes that are created in the graft. The graft is then passed through the incision and into the joint space. The sutures are pulled appropriately to accurately position the suture anchors. The sutures and fiber tape are then tied to fix the graft medially to the top of the glenoid and laterally to the greater tuberosity of the humerus head. Side-to-side sutures may also be used.

Once the procedure is complete, the skin incisions are closed.

Post-operative care

Superior capsule reconstruction is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. Your doctor will prescribe medication to reduce post-surgical pain and inflammation. You will be encouraged to gradually move your affected arm.

For the first few weeks after the surgery, you will be instructed to avoid:

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Driving
  • Excessive working on the computer

Rehabilitation will be initiated in phases to include certain exercises that will help heal the shoulder, lower muscle stiffness and spasms, strengthen, improve range of motion, and return to work and sports activities.

Advantages & disadvantages

The advantages of superior capsule reconstruction are:

  • Significant Improvement in Shoulder Pain
  • Shoulder stability is restored by structurally replacing the superior capsule of the shoulder.
  • Improved shoulder motion
  • Improved shoulder strength
  • Improvement in night pain
  • Minimal complications

10 days after Superior Capsular Reconstruction (SCR) of the shoulder!

10 days after Superior Capsular Reconstruction (SCR) of the shoulder! This patient is doing great with literally no pain! This new procedure, pioneered out of Japan, is giving those with rotator cuff tears that are not repairable an option to have less pain and more function. If you have been told there is nothing that can be done for your shoulder besides a shoulder replacement, this new surgery can be an option and Dr Keller may be the most experienced in this surgery in Michigan!

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Superior capsular reconstruction was created by Dr. Teruhisa Mihata in 2007 . Dr. Keller often discusses the advances in this procedure with Dr. Mihata when they meet at many national and international meetings.

  • Superior capsular reconstruction2019
  • Superior capsular reconstruction2017

Live video of a Superior Capsule Reconstruction - Video 1

Live video of a Superior Capsule Reconstruction - Video 2

Useful Links

  • the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Mid America Orthopaedic Association
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
  • A Nation in Motion

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