Rotator Cuff Repair

Rotator cuff repair surgery is performed to repair a torn rotator cuff (group of muscles and tendons that form a cuff) in the shoulder. The tear can be partial or complete. The partial tear can be repaired by trimming or smoothing procedure called debridement while complete tear needs stitching together of the two sides.

It involves re-attaching the tendon to the head of humerus (upper arm bone).

Recommended condition for Rotator Cuff Surgery

A torn rotator cuff needs to be managed by surgery if it shows following symptoms:

  • Persistent pain that does not improve with nonsurgical methods

  • Pain since 6 to 12 months

  • Tear larger than 3 cm

  • Significant weakness and loss of function in the shoulder

  • Recent and acute injury

  • Active individuals who use their arms for overhead work or sports

Surgical Repair Options

Rotator cuff injury can be repaired by any of the following commonly performed three surgical techniques depending upon the size of tear and the quality of the tendon tissue and bone:

  • Traditional open repair: This procedure is performed in cases of large or complex tear that may require additional reconstruction such as tendon transfer.

  • All-Arthroscopic Repair: Arthroscopic repair of the torn rotator cuff is performed through small incisions rather than larger incision given in open surgery. The procedure involves insertion of a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the shoulder joint to guide miniature surgical instruments needed to perform the repair. Arthroscopy is the simplest and minimally invasive procedure that is usually performed in outpatient setting.

  • Mini-Open Repair: The mini-open repair is a mixture of arthroscopic and open procedure. In this procedure, arthroscopy is first performed to assess and treat the damage without detaching the deltoid muscle through a small incision typically 3 to 5 cm long. After this, the surgeon repairs the rotator cuff through the mini-open incision.

Outcome of rotator cuff repair surgery

Most of the patients show satisfactory pain relief, improved shoulder strength and increased mobility of the shoulder joint after surgery for a torn rotator cuff.