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22.08.2014 | Shoulder | Ausgabe 6/2016

Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy 6/2016

Pectoralis major transfer for treatment of irreparable subscapularis tear: a systematic review

Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy > Ausgabe 6/2016
Jason J. Shin, Maristella F. Saccomanno, Brian J. Cole, Anthony A. Romeo, Gregory P. Nicholson, Nikhil N. Verma



Irreparable ruptures of the subscapularis tendon lead to impaired function of the shoulder and presents a surgically complex problem. Transfer of the pectoralis major tendon has been reported as a possible treatment option. The purpose of this systematic review is to critically examine the outcomes of pectoralis major transfers for the treatment of irreparable subscapularis tears.


A systematic review of the literature was performed using search of electronic databases. No language restrictions were applied. Case reports, review articles, and operative techniques without outcome data were excluded. All the outcomes reported by each study were analyzed and when possible, data were pooled to generate frequency-weighted values to summarize outcomes.


Eight studies with a total 195 shoulders were included in this systematic review. The mean age of patients was 58.8 years (range 18–81 years) and the mean follow-up was 33.4 months (range 6–80 months). Constant scores improved from a mean pre-operative score of 37.8 ± 6.8, to a mean postoperative score of 61.3 ± 6.5 (p < 0.0001). Pain scores could not be pooled as different scales were used. Nevertheless, a trend in pain reduction was noted in all papers. Functional outcomes were less favorable in patients with massive rotator cuff tears or previous shoulder replacements. Moreover, the Constant scores were significantly higher in patients following subcoracoid transfer of the pectoralis major tendon compared to patients who received supracoracoid transfer (p < 0.001). The overall reported incidence of postoperative nerve palsy is low (one transient musculocutaneous nerve palsy and one axillary nerve dysfunction out of 195 cases).


The systematic review based on frequency-weighted means demonstrated improvement in shoulder function, strength and pain relief after pectoralis major transfer for irreparable subscapularis tear.

Level of evidence


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