No Party for the Balloon Spacer in Rotator Cuff Surgery

A large meta-analysis answers some key questions about a much-touted new device

No Party for the Balloon Spacer in Rotator Cuff Surgery

What’s the Claim?

A meta-analysis that synthesized data from 28 studies evaluating patients with massive, irreparable rotator cuff tears found no advantage to placing a balloon spacer over simple arthroscopic debridement in terms of pain, Constant score, or range of motion. Overall, complications were slightly more frequent in the debridement-alone group (5.2% ± 5.6% versus 3.5% ± 6.3%), but the duration of follow-up was much longer in that group (and 70% of the patients in the balloon group also received a debridement), making this finding likely to be spurious. There were no differences in overall reoperations or frequency of reoperation for persistent symptoms between the groups. Time to reverse total shoulder arthroplasty was shorter in the balloon group compared to the debridement-alone group (11 ± 5 versus 25 ± 28 months).

How’s It Stack Up?